Sommaruga, who has backed more renewable energy use in Switzerland, admitted that the country might have to resort to using oil for electricity generation this winter as Europe faces low Russian natural gas supply, which could be cut even further or cut off altogether.
Switzerland has an experimental power plant that has been used for testing new gas turbines, according to Swiss media. Italian firm Ansaldo Energia, owner of the experimental plant, wanted as early as this spring to make the facility available as an emergency reserve.
Switzerland is not the only country in Europe considering or already switching from natural gas to coal or oil for power generation amid low Russian pipeline gas deliveries and efforts to conserve gas as the EU targets to have gas storage sites 80-90% full ahead of the winter heating season.
Major energy-intensive industries in France are looking to convert gas boilers to run on oil as French and European businesses prepare for another decline or a complete halt of Russian gas deliveries to Europe, Reuters reported last month.
Switching to oil has boosted global oil demand, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly market report last week.
“Soaring oil use for power generation and gas-to-oil switching are boosting demand,” the international agency noted.
“With several regions experiencing blazing heatwaves, the latest data confirm increased oil burn in power generation, especially in Europe and the Middle East but also across Asia. Fuel switching is also taking place in European industry, including refining,” said the IEA, which raised its 2022 global oil demand growth forecast by 380,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the August report.