The Swiss government announced its plan to deal with expected energy shortfalls this winter, and it sounds like a lot of fun — provided you’re a shut-in who likes reading by candlelight under multiple blankets.
The alpine country — one of the wealthiest in the world — will severely restrict electric vehicles from its roads, according to a Daily Mail report. If the country runs out of power, EVs won’t be allowed out for anything but “essential” travel.
But the restrictions don’t end there.
The contingency plan calls for three levels of energy rationing.
Under the least extreme, most buildings would be limited to 20C (68F) and “people will be asked to limit their washing machines to a maximum of 40C [104F].”
Under the mid-tier, retail stores could find their hours reduced by two each shopping day, many buildings would have their heat limited to 19C (66F), and nightclubs wouldn’t be allowed any heat at all — although given the other restrictions, that point might be moot.
Sports stadiums? Closed. Movie theaters, too.
But the Swiss might not find much relief at home, either. Should the worst come to pass, gaming consoles and streaming services like Netflix will go on the verboten list.
The Swiss generate nearly two-thirds of their energy from hydroelectric sources that produce very little electricity during the winter months when the water is locked up as snow and ice.
Most of the remaining third of their power is produced by nuclear.
Maybe, given that their country is in the friggin’ Alps, they should have switched that ratio around, but no. Instead, the government has decided to eliminate nuclear power altogether.
It didn’t have to be this way.
If you’ve ever traveled through any of Europe’s alpine areas, there’s no doubt in your mind that the Europeans know how to build superior infrastructure — when they choose to.
A few years ago, my wife and I road-tripped from Nice, France, to Porto Venere in northern Italy. Not a very long drive, maybe four hours with a couple of leisurely stops to admire the scenery.
The scenery really is something. Although much of the drive is on or near the coast, in many places, there’s no beach to speak of. Just the navy blue water of the Mediterranean rubbing right up against nearly shear mountainsides.
During those parts of the drive, the entire A10 highway consists of just two elements: elevated roads running between mountains and tunnels bored through the mountains. All of it was ingeniously created, expertly crafted, and lovingly maintained.
To me, the human engineering was every bit as stunning as anything Mother Nature had conjured up there.
The Europeans know how to build infrastructure. When they want to.
So when you read that this or that country will be turning off the heat this winter because they can’t produce enough electricity, understand that they’ve done this to themselves by choice.