Switzerland Cannot Afford Not To Transition To Renewables

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A new report published by the Swiss Energy Foundation has made it clear that Switzerland cannot afford not to transition to renewables by looking at the overall cost of not transitioning to renewables and lower consumption.

Switzerland’s Energy Foundation has completed their own study (unhelpfully published only in German – PDF) and found that not transitioning to an all renewable energy plan would be even more expensive than doing so.

Transitioning to renewables will prove a less expensive option no later than 2040, based on the most reliable scenarios for traditional-energy prices through the next few decades. That date could even be pulled forward if fossil fuel prices increase above expectations.

The following chart, though rendered only in German, shows the point at which the cost of transitioning swaps (Note: “Mehrkosten” means “additional charge”, “Minderkosten” means “cost reduction/reduced cost”, and “Gewinne” means “profits”).


One aspect of this study is the “sufficiency” of the Swiss population. This is essentially the good stewardship of energy use by a population, and was taken into account in the study. Translating from the German highlights pointed out in the Swiss Energy Foundation press release;

Adopting a halved increase in living space per person, 0.5 ° C lower room temperatures and stabilized at the level of passenger-kilometers in 2010 leads to average annual reduction in costs of 0.4 billion CHF per year .

Furthermore, Switzerland is still somewhat dependent upon foreign imports. Currently, almost 40% of the country’s energy is supplied by foreign imports. According to the report, transitioning to renewables will reduce the cost of imports to 16% by 2050, which translates to CHF 7 billion (Swiss francs) worth of savings for the country.

The reality of the situation is that with energy costs spiking somewhat regularly — in particular those reliant upon imported fossil fuels — we could see a transition to renewable energy as a cheaper and more sensible option by as early as 2030.

From a purely logical point of view, it seems entirely sensible that transitioning to renewable energy would be a cost effective road to take — relying upon technological innovation and environmentally renewing electricity generating techniques over hoping the Earth will continue to give up its fossil fuels and minerals, which require ever more expensive and difficult extraction methods as we chew through the increasingly small quantities. The roadblock is, unsurprisingly, the entrenched fossil fuel and nuclear industries, who have a vested interest in not transitioning.

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

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8 thoughts on “Switzerland Cannot Afford Not To Transition To Renewables

  • What’s true for Switzerland is true for the whole world. If we fail to grasp that and act we are in for a bumpy ride to oblivion.

    • What is your basis for claiming plagiarism?

      • The article was changed to remove passages indicating the rewrite. The German press release appeared at the beginning of the month; my write-up, just days before this one. I referenced Altmaier; he referenced Altmaier. The structure of the presentation was the same.

    • Cool it Craig. All accurate secondary reports on the same primary event – here a Swiss study – will look quite similar.

      • Nothing looks like my work accidentally, James. This was a clear rewrite, but it has been edited to remove what the editor called “offending passages.” So they agreed it looked like a rewrite. I did not ask for deletion; I just want to have attribution when my ideas are used, and CleanTechnica has a history a complete reprints (verbatim!) of my work without my permission.

  • “Gewinne” in the context is “gains” not “profits”.

  • Actually, Switzerland imports well over 80% of all its energy:
    Here are detailed energy statistics (only available in French or German):

    And about 40% of the Swiss power is generated by nuclear (100% of nuclear fuel is imported):
    Here are detailed electricity statistics (only available in French or German):

    The transition to renewable energies is difficult because Swiss utilities are not interested in decentralized power (which is generally not owned by them) and because there’s currently more than enough power in Europe anyway (Swiss utilities produce more than double as much power abroad than in Switzerland), so more power with little marginal costs (renewables) will reduce (their) wholesale electricity prices.
    So, with more renewable power utilities lose twice:
    1. Because of a reduction of market share.
    2. Because of a reduction of whole sale electricity prices.

    And unfortunately utilities have a lot of influence in Swiss politics.

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