electric vehicle car EV
The Swiss rely on energy imports from France and Germany to get them through winter because dams and reservoirs they rely on for 60 per cent of their power are less productive
Switzerland will ban the use of electric cars for 'non-essential' journeys if the country runs out of energy this winter, the government has announced.

Emergency plans drawn up in the event the Swiss are hit by blackouts also call for shop opening hours to be reduced by up to two hours per day, heating systems in nightclubs to be turned off, and other buildings to be heated to no more than 20C.

Comment: It was only a few months ago that people were uneasy at being asked just to restrict their heating.

Crisis measures could see streaming services and games consoles banned, Christmas lights turned off, and all sports stadiums and leisure facilities closed.

Switzerland fears an energy shortage in the coming months because it is highly dependent on imports to get it through winter.

The country gets around 60 per cent of its energy from hydroelectric power stations, such as dams across rivers or generators placed between lakes.

Around a third of its power comes from nuclear, which the government has committed to phasing out, and the remaining comes from a mixture of traditional fossil fuel plants and solar or wind generation.

Overall, Switzerland produces enough electricity each year to keep the lights on - but that statistic masks huge discrepancies month-to-month.

Because hydropower relies on rainfall and snow melt to top up rivers and reservoirs, it naturally increases during spring and summer but falls off in autumn and winter.

Comment: When it's needed most:

That means the Swiss export large amounts of power to neighbouring nations during the warmer, wetter months and import through the colder months.

In turn, that means energy shortages in Europe caused by Putin's war in Ukraine will impact the country even though it burns almost no Russian gas.

Germany is Switzerland's largest energy exporter and was hugely reliant on Russian supplies. France is second, and is currently suffering issues with its nuclear reactors.

Switzerland is also generating less energy than usual from its hydro plants because the exceptionally dry summer in Europe caused lakes and rivers to run low.

The country's emergency plan is divided into two categories - emergency and crisis - with three degrees of restrictions in the first, and four in the second.

It is designed to operate like Covid lockdowns, with each stage triggered depending on the amount of energy available.

Comment: Covid lockdowns appear to have been a trial run.

Under the least-extreme 'emergency' measures, people will be asked to limit their washing machines to a maximum of 40C with public buildings heated to no more than 20C - unless they are a hospital or nursing home.

That will decrease to 19C under the next level of restriction, with streaming services forced to limit the resolution of their videos to standard instead of HD.

Comment: This is the kind of totalitarianism that psychopathic dictators of years gone by could only dream of.

Under the next level of 'emergency' measures, shops will be asked to reduce opening times by up to two hours per day, with electric vehicles limited to essential journeys only.

That means attending a professional practice, food shopping, visiting the doctor, attending religious events, and attending court hearings.

Under 'crisis' measures, hot water will be turned off in public bathrooms, air conditioning in private homes will be barred, as will the use of electric leaf blowers.

Moving up the scale, outdoor Christmas lights will then be extinguished, escalators will be stopped, and commercial ice machines will have to shut down.

Next up, swimming pools will have to shut, sports stadiums cannot be illuminated, nightclub lighting will turn off, and cryptocurrency mining will be barred.

Under the most-extreme measures, all leisure businesses will have to close and all sports matches will be banned, along with concerts, theatre and opera.