Switzerland is very worried about a blackout in winter and is preparing radical austerity measures in the event of shortages. These include driving bans for electric cars. There could also be restrictions in Germany – first when loading.
Thanks to hydropower, Switzerland has one of the most environmentally friendly power supplies in Europe. But now the Alpine republic is afraid of the blackout. “In winter, the country imports large amounts of electricity. In 2021 it was 5.7 billion kilowatt hours, which came mainly from France and Germany,” reports the tech portal “Golem”. In other words, without French nuclear power plants or the occasional German wind energy surplus, the lights would probably go out in Switzerland.
But since France and Germany are also extremely uncertain cantonists this winter – France because of many failures in nuclear power plants, Germany because of the unpredictable random flow from wind and solar energy, coupled with poor solar yield in winter and the acute gas shortage – Switzerland is now calculating with a high blackout risk.
A draft by the Swiss Confederation dated November 23 entitled “Ordinance on Restrictions and Bans on the Use of Electrical Energy” envisages drastic measures that could be taken as part of four escalation levels in the event of an energy shortage. For example, there are specifications according to which the washing machine may run at a maximum of 40 degrees Celsius. Refrigerators must not be cooled below 6 degrees. Everything that is only for comfort – such as saunas and steam baths – can only be used to a limited extent in your own home.
In addition to extensive rules on the operation of electrical devices in the commercial and private sectors, the prohibited list also includes spicy restrictions on car traffic. On the one hand, the speed limit on Swiss motorways is to be reduced from 120 km/h to 100 km/h. But it will be really tough for the drivers of electric cars: they would be banned from driving in the event of a power shortage. Literally, the draft states: “The private use of electric cars is only permitted for absolutely necessary journeys (e.g. professional practice, shopping, visiting the doctor, attending religious events, attending court hearings). “
According to various media reports, this would affect around 110,000 drivers in Switzerland – and would of course be absolutely fatal for the ramp-up of e-mobility, which is also being promoted politically in Switzerland: Who would still buy an electric car when they could expect it at any time, especially in winter must that he is not allowed to drive it? The plan assures that the driving bans should only take place from the third of four “escalation levels”. Nevertheless, one must probably advise the Swiss to buy an electric car, if at all, only as a second car.
In an interview with the tabloid Blick, the Swiss car importers association “Auto Schweiz” confirmed that they would fight against any electric driving ban in the voting procedure announced for December on the planned provisions. According to Auto Schweiz Managing Director Andreas Burgener, the electricity requirements of e-cars in Switzerland accounted for just 0.4 percent of the total requirement in 2021.
FOCUS Online asked the German Ministries of Transport and Economics whether driving bans for e-cars could also come in this country. A response from the ministries is still pending.
It has long been clear that there could also be significant restrictions for e-cars in Germany in the future – for example when charging. Because if the load expansion happens faster than the grid expansion, then “charging has to be done in a grid-friendly way”. In other words: Charging does not necessarily take place when the driver needs it, but when there is just enough electricity available (read more about this here).
Battery cars usually charge at home in the garage. When connected to special wall boxes with a charging capacity of 3.4, 7.4, 11 or a maximum of 22 kilowatts, they draw significantly more electricity than a household appliance. The limiting factor is not just the home network, but also the car’s integrated charger; often the available charging capacity of the box cannot be used at all.
FOCUS Online asked the experts from the Association of Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies e. V. (VDE) enquired. In fact, Germany faces major challenges if e-mobility is to ramp up smoothly:
The VDE explains what the prerequisite for “grid-friendly charging” is: a temporary shifting of loads using intelligent measuring systems (iMSys). The electric car wall box in the garage at home communicates with the network operator so that they have an overview of the current charging situation and can intervene in an emergency. “The alternative would be to allocate network connections for wall boxes on a first come, first serve basis or to temporarily switch off individual network strands in overload situations,” according to the network experts.
Even if there are no concrete plans like in Switzerland, owners of e-cars in Germany have to be prepared that they cannot use their vehicle like a petrol or diesel engine when energy runs out again . Of course, this is not much of a consolation for combustion engine drivers: a new boost in fuel prices can be expected soon.
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