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Switzerland's electricity consumption (end consumption = domestic consumption after deduction of quantities lost in transmission and distribution) rose in 2010 by 4.0% to 59.8 billion kWh (2009: 57.5 billion kWh). In every month of 2010, Switzerland's electricity consumption was between 1.9% and 6.8% higher than in the previous year, with the exception of January. The highest increase in consumption (6.2%) was seen in the second quarter; in the other quarters electricity consumption increased in comparison to 2009 by 2.0% (1st quarter), 3.2% (3rd quarter), and 4.9% (4th quarter). The high demand for electricity combined with low domestic production in the 2nd and 3rd quarters led to a significant decline in the export surplus compared to 2009. Due to higher production at hydropower plants, less electricity had to be imported in the 4th quarter of the year as in the same period in 2009, although demand was high.
The main overall drivers of electricity consumption are economic growth and population development. In 2010, the gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.6% (source: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, SECO). As yet, no statistics are available from the Federal Statistical Office (BFS) about the development of the population in 2010. According to the population scenarios postulated by the BFS for 2010, the population ("average population scenario") should have grown by about 0.9%. The severe weather (increase in the number of heating degree days of 12.7% compared to 2009) contributed to increased electricity consumption. According to the analysis of energy consumption by use (BFE/Prognos 2010), almost 10% of all electricity is used in heating.
Overall electricity production (domestic production prior to deduction of electricity consumed by storage pumps) at Switzerland's power plants in 2010 was 66.3 billion kWh, 0.4% less than in 2009 (66.5 billion kWh). This is the fifth highest generation record ever, the best result having been achieved in 2001. In the 1st and 4th quarters of 2010, the values for domestic generation (+ 2.3% and + 14.7%) were higher and in the 2nd and 3rd quarters lower (- 8.3% and - 6.7%) than the corresponding values for 2009.
Hydropower plants (fluvial power plants and storage power plants) generated 0.8% more electricity than in the previous year. Production at fluvial power plants fell by 0.5% while that of storage power plants rose by 1.9%. Production at hydropower plants sank in summer 2010 by 8.4% compared to 2009. Electricity production by hydropower plants increased in both winter quarters by 16.5%, whereby production in the 4th quarter of 2010 increased significantly compared to 2009 (+ 30.7%). Production at storage power plants also increased remarkably by 41.5%.
Although the Mühleberg power plant set a new record for production, the overall amount of electricity generated by the five Swiss nuclear power plants fell from 26.1 billion kWh (2009) to 25.2 billion kWh (- 3.5%) The availability of Swiss nuclear power plants was 88.7% (2009: 92.4%).
Hydropower plants contributed 56.5% to overall electricity production, followed by nuclear power plants (38.1%) and conventional thermal and other power plants (5.4%).
In 2010, domestic production exceeded domestic demand (national consumption) over a six month period. With imports totaling 66.8 billion kWh and exports of 66.3 billion kWh, the balance for the full year was an excess in imports of 0.5 billion kWh (2009: export surplus of 2.2 billion kWh). Switzerland recorded an excess in imports for the third time since 2005 and 2006. In the 1st and 4th quarters the balance of imports was 3.7 billion kWh (2009: 5.2 billion kWh) while an export surplus of 3.2 billion kWh was recorded in the 2nd and 3rd quarters (2009: 7.3 billion kWh).
Revenue from electricity exports in 2010 was 5,064 million Swiss francs (7.65 ct/kWh) while the cost for imports was 3,736 million Swiss francs (5.60 ct/kWh). Thus, income from exports in 2010 was 7.3% higher than in the same period in 2009. Expenditure increased in 2010 in comparison to 2009 by 18.0%. Switzerland's positive trade balance fell compared to 2009 by 14.5% to 1,328 million Swiss francs.