Switzerland Planning Electric Vehicle Ban To Combat Blackouts

As Europe faces an uncertain winter amid its ongoing energy crisis, Switzerland has devised a plan to lower the risk of blackouts, including a ban on using electric vehicles for non-essential travel.

The landlocked nation relies heavily on energy imports from other countries. It is also facing severe shortfalls this winter, leading to the risk of a cascading supply chain crash. As a result, Swiss leaders have developed a four-part emergency plan that relies on two restriction tiers, “emergency” and “crisis.”

Switzerland gets about 60% of its domestic energy supply from hydroelectric power stations stationed on a network of dams on rivers and between mountain lakes. Nuclear energy production accounts for about 33% of the Swiss power supply. The remainder comes from a mixture of fossil fuel power plants and renewable sources such as solar and wind farms.

On average, Switzerland produces enough energy domestically to meet its overall electric needs. However, the domestic supply needs to be increased during peak usage months. Therefore, Swiss hydroelectric production is much more significant during the warm months when heavier rainfall and snowmelt lead to greater volume in its rivers and lakes.

That combination of factors means Switzerland becomes dependent on imports from neighboring European countries during the coldest months. It buys most of its imported energy from Germany, which usually relies heavily on Russian imports to meet its needs. Its second largest supplier is France, which is having problems with its nuclear production capacity this year.

Even though Switzerland burns almost no Russian natural gas, the supply interruptions to its regular import customers set the table for severe energy problems this winter.

The Swiss government’s energy restrictions include heating caps on all public buildings to no more than 68 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, homeowners are directed to stop using hot water in their washing machines. Retail store hours are expected to be restricted, and escalators and Christmas lighting are being turned off.

Electric vehicle use is expected to be restricted to only essential travel.

In the worst case, the government has said it will cancel public events like concerts, sports, and theater performances. “Non-essential” businesses may also be forced to close until warm weather arrives.

The plan’s final details have not been adopted yet. However, it appears the program will use some metrics to trigger different levels of restrictions similar to the COVID-19 lockdowns the nation is just recovering from.