Electricity Act

National Referendum – Federal Act on a Secure Electricity Supply from Renewable Energy Sources

What’s at issue?

On 6 October 2017, Switzerland ratified the Paris Agreement and announced its intention to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. According to the Federal Council and Parliament, this will require a massive expansion of renewable energies. In addition, the security of energy supply in Switzerland is increasingly under pressure from a wide range of sources. In recent years, the energy crisis and war in Ukraine have shown how quickly the situation can change and how problematic dependence on energy from other countries can be. At the same time, demand for electricity will rise significantly over the next few years – partly because fossil fuels for transportation or heating will be replaced progressively by electricity. Switzerland is especially dependent on electricity imports in the winter months. Future imports, however, are far from guaranteed as our neighbouring countries are equally affected by the energy crisis and are themselves working towards decarbonisation.

In September 2023, Parliament approved the Federal Act on a Secure Electricity Supply from Renewable Energy Sources (hereinafter the «Electricity Act») by a large majority. The package of measures, also referred to as an umbrella decree, focuses on general expansion targets for renewable energies (solar, hydro, wind, and biomass), as well as specific expansion targets for electricity production in winter – likewise with renewable sources. Electricity consumption per person is also to be reduced through increases in efficiency. The bill also simplifies planning criteria for production facilities of «national interest». These include major solar and wind power plants capable of producing large amounts of electricity in the winter months. Such projects will benefit from quicker approval procedures compared to current requirements. The bill also includes 16 specified projects designed to increase electricity production capacities of hydropower plants.

As a referendum has been called to challenge the Electricity Act, the bill will be subject to a popular vote on 9 June 2024.

Our Position

Medical technology companies in Switzerland are dependent on a stable and secure power supply. Measures which increase resilience to external influences should be encouraged. Swiss Medtech also supports decarbonisation and is committed to promoting a more sustainable medtech industry, with associated reductions in its carbon footprint.

With this in mind, Swiss Medtech is supporting the Electricity Act. It will result in a more reliable supply, as well as improved grid security and energy efficiency. Its adoption will also lessen Switzerland’s dependence on electricity imports from abroad. The bill also strikes a good balance between the expansion of renewable energies and protection of rural areas.


Strengthen security of supply
Expanding renewable energies and increasing energy efficiency will reinforce the security of supply in Switzerland. The Electricity Act is an essential step in the right direction as Switzerland's demand for electricity will continue to rise sharply – particularly in view of the trend towards electrification. Supply bottlenecks or blackouts must be avoided at all costs, especially for medtech manufacturing companies which must meet strict production chain requirements for fully automated manufacturing processes or cooling chains. Swiss Medtech therefore also expressly supports the specified expansion targets for wintertime electricity production and diversification through a variety of energy sources. These measures will stabilise Switzerland’s electricity supply and make it more robust.

Reduce dependence on foreign countries
External influences such as the failure of nuclear power plants in France during the winter of 2022/2023 or the ongoing war in Ukraine highlight the fact that secure power supply must not be taken for granted. Our neighbouring countries are equally affected by the energy crisis and are also in the process of decarbonisation. Imports therefore may be far from secure in the future. As Switzerland is heavily dependent on electricity from neighbouring countries, especially in the winter months, it would be well advised to strengthen domestic supply in order to boost the nation’s resilience and independence.

Produce climate-neutral electricity
Swiss Medtech supports the goal of the Paris Agreement and is helping the medical technology industry achieve decarbonisation. Fossil fuel usage in transportation, heating, and industry must be replaced with clean electricity to reduce CO2 emissions to net zero by 2050. The expansion of renewable energies provided for in the Electricity Act is therefore appropriate and important. These proposals, however, must also consider the interests of the countryside and nature conservation. The bill ensures a respectable balance between the expansion of renewable energy sources and protection of the environment by (amongst other measures) requiring specific approval for each individual project.