Fossil fuels are the primary source of energy in Switzerland. The federal government has set itself the target of a 20% reduction in fossil fuel consumption and a 50% increase in the share of renewable energies by 2020.
With the exception of water and wood, Switzerland has no natural sources of energy. This is why it relies on oil, gas, coal and nuclear fuel imports to cover 80% of its energy needs. In 2015 hydropower accounted for 59.9% of domestic energy production, while 33.5% was generated by the country’s five nuclear power plants. Roughly 6.6% of the energy produced in Switzerland comes from alternative sources (wind power, solar power, waste incineration and biogas).
Today, Switzerland consumes five times more energy than it did in 1950. Transport is the largest user (over one-third of total consumption). Crude oil is by the far the main source of energy (41.9%), followed by nuclear power (22.3%), hydropower (13.1%) and gas (11%).
The goal of Swiss energy policy is to guarantee a secure, economical and ecological energy supply. To fulfil this mission, it can rely on a series of legal instruments, including the article added to the Federal Constitution in 1990 and the Federal Energy Act which was passed in 1998. There is also the ‘SwissEnergy’ programme, launched in 2001, which aims to achieve a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions and energy consumption from 1990 levels by 2020, accompanied by a 50% increase in the share of renewables between 2010 and 2020.
Switzerland has imposed a CO2 levy on fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) since 2008. Following the nuclear reactor accident in Fukushima in 2011 , Switzerland embarked on an energy transition process, which began with the launch of its national “Energy Strategy 2050”. One of the aims of this strategy is the step-by-step phase-out of nuclear power.