- Almost 90% of the Swiss companies surveyed expect significantly higher energy costs next year and 60% expect that they will not be able to pass on these costs to customers.
- One third of the respondents intend to improve their own energy efficiency and one fifth want to replace fossil fuels with sustainable alternatives.
- Almost all of the companies surveyed are able to continue their operations with lower energy quantities and a quarter have already secured alternative resources to natural gas.
- Despite the current energy crisis, almost all Swiss companies will continue to pursue their sustainability ambitions unabated.
- Swiss companies will continue to rely on energy supplies from abroad for the foreseeable future.
Zurich, 11 October 2022 – Current developments in the energy market, such as increasingly scarce energy sources and rising energy prices, are impacting Swiss companies. This is shown by a survey conducted by the auditing and consulting company EY in September 2022. More than one third of the Swiss companies surveyed expect "falling margins" in the coming months and a quarter expect "production difficulties" as a result of higher energy prices and scarcer energy sources. Furthermore: Almost 60% of the Swiss companies surveyed stated that they were unable to pass on increased costs for electricity and gas to their customers.
The survey clearly shows the measures that Swiss companies intend to take to respond to the tense situation: Almost one third of the companies state that they want to focus on increasing energy efficiency. And one fifth of companies want to replace the fossil fuels used so far entirely with sustainable alternatives.
The negative effects of the current situation on companies' climate targets are limited. Two thirds of the companies state that they are continuing to pursue or even prioritize achieving these goals because of the particular situation.
Almost 100 Swiss companies participated in the survey conducted by the auditing and consulting firm EY. Half of the responses come from top management (C-level), the other half from employees in executive positions (manager/team lead).
The survey covers a wide range of companies operating in the following sectors: Technology, manufacturing, finance and banking, health care, services, insurance, media and entertainment, mobility and transportation, mining and the metals industry, real estate and hospitality, agriculture, private equity, consumer goods, oil and gas, life sciences, electricity and utilities.
Swiss companies expect further increases in energy costs
Almost one third of companies (31%) expect a cost increase of 11% to 30%. "The fact that companies expect this relatively small increase in energy costs can be explained by the fact that 57% of the companies surveyed are SMEs," says Benjamin Teufel, Head of EY Sustainability and Sector Leader Energy & Resources at EY in Switzerland. "Many Swiss SMEs source their energy through basic supply and are, therefore, far less exposed to rising energy prices than companies that meet their needs through the free market."
Only 16% of companies expect a cost increase of less than 10%. 14% of the companies expect between 31% and 50% higher costs, 8% of the companies expect a cost increase of 51% to 100% and 9% of the companies indicate an expected cost increase of 101% to 200%. A total of 3% of companies estimate that they will have to cope with an increase in energy costs of more than 500% next year.
With regard to the possibility of passing the higher energy costs on to customers, the Swiss companies draw a clear picture: A total of 57% state that they are unable to pass on these costs to their customers. One fifth of the respondents believe that they can pass on 1% to 10% of the costs. By contrast, 13% of companies believe that they can charge their customers for more than 50% of the energy costs.
Major challenges due to rising prices and limited resources
Still, one quarter of the companies surveyed made it clear that rising energy costs and the scarce availability of energy sources are not a critical challenge for their operating business. Those companies that anticipate negative consequences had the opportunity to provide several answers in the survey. The most frequently cited consequence of rising energy prices and scarce energy sources is "falling margins". The fact that the manufacturing industry, in particular, is also dependent on energy is shown by the fact that "production difficulties" are the second most commonly mentioned item. Other possible consequences include "liquidity difficulties" and the fear that "customers could look for new providers abroad".
A shortage of gas, alternative energy sources and contingency plans
Around half (52%) of the Swiss companies surveyed do not need gas for their business operations. When asked whether operations could be maintained with, say, 20% less gas, one fifth (22%) of the companies stated they could remain operational even with significantly less gas. A quarter of the companies say that operations can be maintained if they have up to 20% less gas. Only 1% of companies would have to completely shut down their operations if the quantity gas was reduced by around 20%.
Of the companies that rely on gas, around two thirds say they do not currently have alternative energy sources, while almost one third have already secured such alternatives. Oil, wood, geothermal earth probes and diesel generators are most commonly mentioned as alternatives to gas.
In the event of limited availability of gas in Switzerland or temporary power outages, 64% of companies have contingency plans. A total of 36% of companies have no contingency plans in the event of a gas shortage or power outages.
The most important measures for the coming months and the consequences for sustainability goals
A clear picture emerges when it comes to the question of which measures should be prioritized for the next 12 months: Almost a third (31%) of Swiss companies state that they want to focus on measures to increase energy efficiency. A further 20% state that they want to replace their fossil fuels entirely with sustainable alternatives. Measures, such as adjustments to their business model (7%), a new pricing strategy (7%), or an adjustment of the purchasing strategy for energy resources (7%) play a subordinate role. "The current crisis will, as a result, have a lasting effect on the Swiss economy," says Teufel.
With regard to the companies' climate targets, the question was asked as to whether and how these are influenced by recent developments in the energy market. 42% of the companies state that nothing will change for the climate targets set and that they will continue to pursue them as planned. A total of 21% even think that their own climate targets are even more important than before because of the current situation. In contrast, only 10%, believe that the achievement of their own climate targets will only be "pursued in part". 4% of the companies stated that they had "temporarily suspended" the implementation of climate targets. "This is surprising and, at the same time, pleasing news," says Teufel and explains: "Companies are increasingly in a position to decouple their activities from long-term goals in terms of short and medium-term challenges."