Hydropower also creates jobs and provides significant funding, most notably to mountain cantons and communes, through various charges and taxes.
In a European comparison, Switzerland is no. 4 in terms of contribution of hydropower towards electricity production, behind Norway, Austria and Iceland.
There are currently (1-1-2018) 650 hydropower power plants in Switzerland that have a capacity of at least 300 kilowatts (generator). They generate a maximum output of 15,294 MW (generator) and an annual production potential of 36,327 gigawatt hours. The main water sources (feeding 570 power plants) are the Rhine (into which the Aara, Reuss and Limmat flow) and the Rhone.
The two mountain cantons, Valais and Graubünden, are the biggest producers: with a combined output of 17.66 TWh, they supply almost half of Switzerland's hydropower.
In Switzerland's hydropower plant statistics, a distinction is made between four types of plants: run-of-river (4,053 MW, 17,550 GWh/y), storage (8,152 MW, 17,221 GWh/y), pumped storage (2,562 MW, 1,557 GWh/y) and basic water flow plants (527 MW).
Large-scale hydropower plants (capacity greater than 10 MW generator) account for around 90% of Switzerland's total hydropower production.