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Switzerland's electricity consumption (end consumption = domestic consumption after deduction of quantities lost in transmission and distribution) declined by 2.1% in 2009 to 57.5 billion kWh (2008: 58.7 billion kWh). Although electricity consumption increased in the first quarter of 2009 by 1.5% because of the cold weather, in the subsequent three quarters it declined in comparison to 2008 by 6.9%, 2.5% and 1.2% respectively. In the 2nd quarter low electricity consumption and high inland generation led to a significant increase in the export surplus compared to 2008. In the second half of the year with drier weather a decline in inland generation at hydropower plants led to a reduction in the export surplus in the 3rd quarter of 2009 although demand was also low. Finally, in the 4th quarter of 2009, an import surplus was noted with more electricity being imported than in the same period of 2008.
There were two main reasons for the decline in electricity consumption; first the weak economy: the gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 1.5% in 2009 (source: State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, SECO); secondly, less electricity was consumed for heating because of the warmer weather (decrease in the number of heating days by 4.9% compared to 2008). The increase in Switzerland's average population of 87,600, or 1.1% compared to 2008 (source: Swiss Federal Office for Statistics, BFS), tended to slow the decline in demand.
Overall electricity production (domestic production prior to deduction of consumption for storage) at Switzerland's power plants fell in 2009 by 0.7% to 66.5 billion kWh (2008: 67.0 billion kWh). This is the fourth highest peak in production ever achieved since 2001, the record year. In the first two quarters of 2009 values for inland generation lay higher (+2.3% and +6.2%) and in the 3rd and 4th quarters lower (-4.4% and -6.7%) than those for 2008.
Hydropower plants generated 1.1% less electricity than in 2008. Production at fluvial power plants decreased by 3.5% while that of storage power plants increased by 0.7%. Although production at hydropower plants rose by 6.9% in the first half of the year, it fell in the drier second half of 2009 by 7.9%. In both winter quarters (1st and 4th quarters) electricity production at hydropower plants dropped in contrast to the two summer quarters (2nd and 3rd quarters; +1.0%) by 4.5% compared to 2008.
Electricity production from Swiss nuclear power plants fell insignificantly from 26.13 billion kWh (2008) to 26.12 billion kWh in 2009, the fourth highest figure ever registered. The availability of the five Swiss nuclear power plants was 92.4% in 2009 (2008: 92.7%).
Hydropower plants contributed 55.8% to overall electricity production, followed by nuclear power plants (39.3%) and conventional thermal and other power plants (4.9%).
In 2009, domestic production exceeded domestic demand (national consumption) for six months of the year. With imports totalling 52.0 billion kWh and exports of 54.2 billion kWh, the balance for the entire year was an export surplus of 2.2 billion kWh (2008: 1.1 billion kWh). In the 1st and 4th quarters net imports of 5.2 billion kWh (2008: 4.5 billion kWh) had to be drawn on while an export surplus of 7.4 billion kWh was recorded in the 2nd and 3rd quarters (2008: 5.6 billion kWh).
Income from exports in 2009 amounted to 4,720 million Swiss francs (8.74 cents/kWh) while the cost of imports totalled 3,167 million Swiss francs (6.11 cents/kWh). Compared to 2008 income fell by 13.9% and costs declined by 5.9%. Switzerland's positive trade balance in electricity fell significantly compared to the previous year by 26.6% to 1,553 million Swiss francs.