Electricity consumption in 2020 down by 2.6% due to pandemic

Bern, 16.04.2021 - At 55.7 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), electricity consumption in Switzerland in 2020 was lower than in 2019 (-2.6%). Domestic production (after deduction of electricity consumed by storage pumps) was 65.5 billion kWh. The physical electricity export surplus was 5.6 billion kWh.

Domestic consumption in 2020 lay at 59.9 billion kWh. After deduction of losses occurring in transmission and distribution of 4.2 billion kWh, actual electricity consumption amounted to 55.7 billion kWh which is 2.6% or 1.5 billion kWh (this corresponds approximately to the annual consumption of 296,800 households) less than in 2019 (57.2 billion kWh). The changes in consumption by quarter in 2020 compared to 2019 were -4.3% in the first quarter (lockdown from mid-March), -7.8% in the second quarter (first easing of lockdown measures), -0.3% in the third quarter, and +1.9% in the fourth quarter.

In addition to the effects of the lockdowns, economic trends, weather conditions and efficiency improvements also had a consumption-reducing effect in 2020. On the other hand, population development had a slight upward effect on consumption

  • Economic trend: According to provisional figures, Switzerland's gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 2.9% in 2020 (Source: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, SECO).
  • Population trend: According to provisional statistics issued by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) on 6 April 2021, Switzerland’s population grew by 0.7% in 2020.
  • Weather conditions: In 2019, the number of heating degree days fell by 4.4% compared to 2019 (see table in appendix). As about 10% of the electricity consumed in Switzerland is used for heating, such weather trends tend to lead to slight drop in consumption.

According to data published by SECO, the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic had far less of an impact on the economy than the first wave in the spring (this is also shown by the quarterly rates of change in electricity consumption). The service sector in particular (e.g. hospitality, leisure, arts, entertainment, recreation, transport) was heavily affected by the measures to contain the pandemic throughout the year. The annual ex-post analyses of energy consumption will provide further information on the determining factors affecting electricity consumption trends (publication in October 2021).

Domestic electricity production in 2020

Electricity production (domestic) fell by 2.7% to 69.9 billion kWh in 2020 (2019: 71.9 billion kWh). After deduction of 4.4 billion kWh used by storage pumps, net electricity generated amounted to 65.5 billion kWh. Domestic electricity production was above the values for 2020 in two of the quarters and below 2020 values in the other two quarters compared to the previous year (+7.3%, +1.4%; -11.6%, -5.4%).

Hydropower plants (fluvial and storage power plants) generated 0.1% more electricity than in the previous year (fluvial power plants, -0.3%; storage power plants, +0.5%). In the summer, production at hydropower plants fell by 5.6% compared to the previous year (fluvial power plants -2.4%, storage power plants -8.5%); however, in the two winter quarters production increased by 8.1% (fluvial power plants +3.2%, storage power plants +11.2%).

Electricity production at Switzerland’s four nuclear power plants fell by 9.1% to 23.0 billion kWh (2019: 25.3 billion kWh). Note: On 20 December 2019, after 47 in years in operation, Mühleberg nuclear power plant, which produced around 3.1 billion kWh in 2019, ceased generating electricity. In 2020, Gösgen nuclear plant set a new production record of 8.2 TWh. The availability rate of Switzerland's nuclear power plants in 2020 was 88.0% (2019: 86.9%).

Hydropower plants contributed 58.1% to overall electricity production (fluvial power plants 25.2%, storage power plants 32.9%) while nuclear power plants supplied 32.9% and conventional thermal plants and plants using renewable energy generated 9.0%.

Export surplus in 2020

With physical imports of 27.0 billion kWh and physical exports of 32.6 billion kWh, the balance for 2020 was an export surplus of 5.6 billion kWh (2019: export surplus of 6.3 billion kWh). In the first and fourth quarters (winter quarters) Switzerland imported 0.8 billion kWh net (2018: 1.4 billion kWh); in the second and third quarters Switzerland exported 6.4 billion kWh net (2019: 7.7 billion kWh).

According to data from the Federal Customs Administration (FCA) yield from trade-based electricity exports was 1,547 million francs (3.82 cents/kWh). Expenditure of 1,254 million francs (3.82 cents/kWh) was incurred for trade-based electricity imports. This resulted in a positive foreign trade balance of CHF 293 million in 2020 (2019: positive foreign trade balance of CHF 399 million) [Source: FCA / swissimpex; as at April 1, 2021].

Since January 2021: Publication of early estimates of the monthly electricity balance

Since the statistical month of January, the SFOE has been publishing estimates of the monthly electricity balance with a time horizon of ‘t+50 days’ online (‘Overall production and distribution in Switzerland’). The definitive monthly electricity balances will then follow as before with a time horizon of ‘t+90 days’.

Address for enquiries

Marianne Zünd, Head, Media and Political Affairs SFOE, Tel. 058 462 56 75


Swiss Federal Office of Energy

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