Electricity consumption stable in 2016

Bern, 21.04.2017 - At 58.24 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), electricity consumption in Switzerland in 2016 remained at almost the same level as in 2015 (–0.01%). Domestic production (after deduction of electricity consumed by storage pumps) was 58.7 billion kWh. The electricity import surplus was 3.9 billion kWh. For the first time ever a negative foreign trade balance of 145 million Swiss francs was recorded over the entire calendar year.

Domestic consumption in 2016 was 62.6 billion kWh. After deduction of losses occurring in transmission and distribution of 4.4 billion kWh, the actual electricity consumption amounted to 58.239 billion kWh, which is 0.01%, or 7 million kWh less than in 2015 (58,246 billion kWh), an amount consumed by about 1,400 homes. The changes in consumption by quarter in 2016 compared to 2015 were -1.2% (first quarter), +1.0% (second quarter), -2.8% (third quarter), and +2.8% (fourth quarter).

Although the most significant factors (see below) influencing electricity consumption led to an increase in consumption, the effects of these factors could be compensated through increases in efficiency:

  • Development of the economy: In 2016, according to provisional figures, the gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 1.3% (source: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, SECO).
  • Development of the population: According to the provisional statistics issued by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) on April 6, 2017, the population of Switzerland increased by 1.1% in 2016.
  • Weather: In 2016, the number of heating degree-days increased by 6.7% over 2015 (see table in appendix). About 10% of the electricity consumed in Switzerland is used for heating, a development which tends to increase consumption.

The annual ex-post analyses of electricity consumption (to be published in October) will provide further information about the main factors influencing electricity consumption.

Domestic electricity production in 2016

Electricity production (domestic) fell by 6.6% to 61.6 billion kWh in 2016 (2015: 66.0 billion KWh). After deduction of 2.9 billion kWh consumed by storage pumps, net electricity generated amounted to 58.7 billion kWh. In the third quarter, the figure for domestic production was above that for 2015 (+0.7%); however, in the first (-10.6%), second (-1.3%), and fourth quarters (-16.4%) lower values were recorded than in 2015.

Hydropower plants (fluvial and storage power plants) generated 8.0% less electricity than in the previous year (fluvial power plants, -0.1%; storage power plants, -13.7%). In summer 2016, hydropower production fell by 2.4% in comparison to 2015 (fluvial power plants +1.4%, storage power plants -6.2%); in the two winter quarters it fell by 15.4% (fluvial power plants -3.2%, storage power plants -21.2%.

Electricity production at Swiss nuclear power plants fell by 8.4% to 20.2 billion kWh (2015: 22.1 billion kWh). Despite the fact that a production record was established at Gösgen nuclear power plant, a decline in production was experienced due in the main to the exceptional stoppages in production at Beznau I (entire year) and at Leibstadt (September to December) nuclear power plants. The availability rate of Switzerland's nuclear power plants in 2016 was 69.4% (2015: 76.0%).

Hydropower plants contributed 59.0% of the overall electricity generated, while nuclear power plants provided 32.8% and conventional thermal plants and plants using renewable energy generated 8.2%.

Import surplus in 2016

With imports totalling 38.0 billion kWh and exports of 34.1 billion kWh, the balance for 2016 was an import surplus of 3.9 billion kWh (2015: export surplus of 1.0 billion kWh). In the first and fourth quarters (winter quarters) Switzerland imported 8.2 billion kWh net (2015: 3.3 billion kWh); in the second and third quarters Switzerland exported a net volume of 4.3 billion kWh as in the previous year.

Revenues from electricity exports amounted to 1,387 million francs (4.09 cents/kWh). Expenditure of 1,532 million francs (4.04 cents/kWh) was incurred for imports. So for the first time ever, in 2016 Switzerland recorded a negative foreign trade balance of 145 million Swiss francs (2015: positive foreign trade balance of 234 million francs).

Address for enquiries

Marianne Zünd, Head of Communication SFOE, 058 462 56 75 / 079 763 86 11


Swiss Federal Office of Energy

Subscribe to the SFOE press releases