This war has suddenly made us aware of another risk, one that is palpable for us in the shape of higher fuel, gas and electricity prices. The dilemma we are in right now is especially clear: we are caught between rising energy needs and climate protection endeavours, on the one hand, and, on the other, our dependence on fossil fuels, uranium and lithium from what are in some cases countries with autocratic governments.
How to secure climate-friendly energy supplies in the long term is a hotly debated issue. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. But a glance at building façades and the roofs of our homes suggests, however, that we are still far from fully exploiting the potential of electricity generation from renewables. This observation is confirmed, for instance, by the Energy Perspectives 2050+ report published by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy in December 2021. According to that report, photovoltaics alone will be able to generate 34 TWh of electricity by 2050, accounting for about 40 percent of forecast energy consumption. The corresponding figure for 2019 was just 2.2 TWh.2
At its headquarters in St. Gallen, Helvetia covers a significant share of its own energy needs with photovoltaic systems installed on the roofs of its buildings. As early as 2016, we began sourcing all the electricity we needed from renewables.3
What is more, insurance companies like Helvetia were quick to realize that the construction and operation of such systems would go hand in hand with rising demand for insurance cover the risks associated with them. Our insurance solutions for photovoltaic and geothermal probe systems are helping customers in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Italy who want to contribute to the energy transformation. The insurance benefits offered complement the existing covers provided or mandated by state insurers such as Switzerland’s cantonal providers of building insurance.
A useful guide in the search for solutions to avoid power shortages is to assess whether those shortages are insurable. This is yet another top risk where the public and private sector need to work together. A framework is urgently required for the insurance of today’s top risks. For me, that is a key insight from our handling of the pandemic, a long-overlooked top risk where the ad hoc solutions thrown together in haste will be a long-term burden on our economies and the next generation.
1 "Is a flood of cyberattacks replacing the Omicron wave?", Gmür, 2022
2 Technical Report: Energy Perspectives 2050+, Swiss Federal Office of Energy, 2021
3 Helvetia’s Sustainability Report 2020, Helvetia Insurance Group, 2021