Energy crisis: Switzerland mulls gas restrictions

Switzerland could help to prevent an energy shortage by aligning with a European Union plan to cut gas use by 15% this winter, Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told newspaper SonntagsBlick over the weekend.

European Union countries formally adopted the bloc’s emergency plan to curb gas use on Friday in a bid to save fuel for a winter of uncertain Russian supplies. 

“The situation is serious,” Sommaruga told the Sunday newspaper, adding that a call from Switzerland’s electricity commission for households to stock up on candles in case of blackouts this coming winter was “a wake-up call for everyone”.

In late June, the Swiss government outlined plans to address a possible shortage of natural gas this winter and said it could resort to rationing should other measures prove insufficient.  

Landlocked Switzerland obtains its gas via trading hubs in neighbouring countries in the EU, and gas covers around 15% of its total energy consumption. 

Around 42% of gas is used to heat households, and the rest in industry and in the service and transport sectors, according to government data.

Asked if Switzerland should match the EU’s agreement asking all countries in the bloc to voluntarily cut gas use by 15% this winter, Sommaruga replied: “That would certainly make sense. The Federal Council will decide.”

She also said the government would begin a campaign to that effect in the coming weeks and that she would push for the heating to be turned down in public buildings.

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