Hydropower plays a major role in Switzerland's energy production, with a share of around 57 per cent. In addition, storage plants are an important factor for power production at short notice and for the changeover of production from summer to winter. Thanks to its storage capabilities, Switzerland plays a central role as an electricity supplier in the European networks. Hydropower is our most important carbon-free energy source.
Hydropower also creates jobs and provides significant funding, most notably to mountain cantons and communes, through various charges and taxes.
In terms of its contribution of hydropower towards electricity production, in Europe Switzerland is in fourth place behind Norway, Austria and Iceland.
There are currently (31.12.2021) 682 hydropower power plants in Switzerland (capacity from generator of at least 300kW) generating a maximum output of 15,550MW (generator) and an annual production potential of 37,172 gigawatt hours. The main water sources (feeding 600 power plants) are the Rhone and the Rhine and its tributaries, the Aare, Reuss and Limmat.
The largest producers are the two mountain cantons of Valais and Graubünden, which together account for around 18.3TWh/a, almost half of Switzerland's hydropower production.
In the WASTA statistics on hydropower plants in Switzerland with a capacity from generator > 300kW, a distinction is made between four types of power plant: run-of-river (4,201MW, 17,950 GWh/a), storage (8,224MW, 17,661GWh/a), pumped storage (2,562MW, 1,560GWh/a) and basic water flow plants (562MW).
Large-scale hydropower plants (capacity greater > 10MW average mechanical gross output) account for around 85 per cent of Switzerland's total hydropower production.