Energy supply

Switzerland’s energy supply results largely from the import of fossil fuels. To reduce her CO2 emissions and become more independent on foreign countries, Switzerland must rely on energy efficiency and renewable energies. Geothermal energy could play a decisive role in this process as a geological energy source.

Hot water storage tanks in Iceland
Perlan hot water storage tanks in Reykjavik, Iceland
© Sally Anderson, Flickr


Currently mainly the following energy carriers guarantee the energy supply in Switzerland:

  • fossil fuels
        - motor fuels (petrol, aviation gasoline, diesel)
         - petroleum combustibles (mostly heating oils)
         - gas
  • electricity
        - nuclear power
        - hydropower

Fossil fuels are primarily used for motor fuel and heating purposes. 55 percent of the electricity is recovered from hydropower and 40 percent from nuclear power plants. Other energy carriers, including renewable energy, at present play a secondary role:

  • wood
  • industrial wastes
  • district heating
  • coal
  • other renewable energies (geothermal energy, sun, wind, biogas, biofuels)

Switzerland imports more than 80 percent of its energy carriers. Merely 20 percent of the required energy is produced in Switzerland from its own resources: two thirds of it from hydropower, one quarter by the conversion of nuclear fuels. From this large foreign dependence arises a high supply risk for our economy.

Endenergieverbrauch in der Schweiz 1910–2009
Endenergieverbrauch in der Schweiz 1910–2009
© BFE, 2010

Ways out of the dependence on fossil fuels and imports

Switzerland must free itself from its dependence on fossil fuels. On the one hand because of the CO2 emissions and associated climate change. On the other hand, because petroleum and natural gas are subject to unpredictable price fluctuations and will be more expensive in the future, also, because their reserves are gradually shrinking.
Hydropower can barely still be expanded. The electricity production from renewable energy sources such as waste, waste water, biomass, photovoltaics (sun) and wind alone cannot close the supply gap upon abandonment of fossil fuels.
According to sustainability studies at ETH Zürich (Novatlantis Externe Seite. Inhalt wird in neuem Fenster geöffnet.), an improved energy efficiency in particular, could enable the supply of energy without fossil fuels. In this way, the ETH Zürich developed model of a 2,000 watts society strives to reduce the local per capita energy consumption of currently about 5,000 watts to 2,000 watts in the future.

Also, in order to replace the nuclear power in the longer term, research must be expanded in the field of renewable energy, particularly geothermal energy.

Eine mögliche Entwicklung zur 2’000-Watt-Gesellschaft
Heute beträgt unser Pro-Kopf-Primärenergieverbrauch 5‘000 Watt. Hier eine mögliche Entwicklung zur 2’000-Watt-Gesellschaft.
© Nachhaltigkeitsstudie der ETH Zürich, Leichter leben, Novatlantis

Energy supply and geology

Geology plays an important role in terms of energy supply:

  • fossil energy sources such as petroleum, natural gas and coal originated in geological times and are extracted with geotechnical methods.
  • uranium for nuclear fuel rods is extracted by mining uranium ore deposits and must be stored underground (geologically) after use.
  • the heat from the Earth’s interior is used for geothermal energy by means of geotechnical methods.
  • Photovoltaic technology is based amongst other things on the use of rare-earth metals which are obtained by mining ores.


Who is who

Contacts and addresses for the subject of energy supply in Switzerland

Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE)
Mühlestrasse 4
CH-3063 Ittigen

Tel. +41 31 322 56 11
Fax +41 31 323 25 00

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), is the competence center for questions on energy supply and utilization.


Schweizerische Vereinigung für Geothermie
Zürcherstrasse 105
CH-8500 Frauenfeld

Tel. +41 52 721 79 02

The aim of the Schweizerischen Vereinigung für Geothermie (SVG-SSG) is to promote geothermal energy usage in Switzerland. The association aims to educate the public on the benefits of geothermal energy and make known its types of uses. 

Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien und Energieeffizienz (AEE)

Falkenplatz 11
CH-3001 Bern

Tel. +41 31 301 89 62
Fax +41 31 313 33 22

The AEE, on behalf of the federal government, promotes a Swiss energy supply that is more strongly based on CO2-neutral, low-risk and sustainable sources

The Swiss Competence Center on Supply of Electricity (SCCER-SoE)

Ueli Wieland
c/o ETHZ, Sonneggstrasse 5, NO H 67
8092 Zürich

Tel. +41 44 632 32 64
Fax +41 44 633 10 65



Data on energy supply in Switzerland

Here you will find data, documentation and reports on the subject of energy supply in Switzerland.

Swiss Academy of Sciences

Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences

Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC)

Swiss Federal Office of Energy