BKW at a glance

Facts and figures

Milestones in the company’s history

2022

In October, Robert Itschner takes over as CEO. The full-service IT provider UMB is integrated into BKW at the beginning of the year. BKW thus assumes a leading position in the Swiss market in the IT services business. With the acquisition of Solstis SA, BKW is continuing its growth strategy in the services business and in the field of renewable energy. BKW now employs 11,500 people. Thanks to its robust and promising business model, BKW is well able to cope with the extreme distortions on the energy markets caused by the war in Ukraine.

 

2021

In the challenging 2021 financial year the business model of BKW with its three pillars of Energy, Grid, and Services has shown its value. The company enters the next growth phase : BKW will increase its revenue to over CHF 4.5 billion by 2026, and its EBIT to over CHF 700 million. There is a change at the top of the Board of Directors: Roger Baillod replaces Urs Gasche who resigned. Also Suzanne Thoma, CEO of BKW since 2013, is announcing her retirement in mid-2022.

 

2020

BKW immediately starts dismantling its nuclear power plant. The company also ventures into the gas market. In addition to electricity, it now supplies gas as well – mainly to industrial companies, SMEs, property managers and gas suppliers. BKW betters its record result from the previous year. Even without the production of the Mühleberg Nuclear Power Plant, the company increases its revenue to more than CHF 3 billion.

 

2019

BKW posts the best result in its history. It continues to see strong growth in the Services business area and now employs more than 10,000 people in well over 100 companies. BKW becomes the first listed company in Switzerland to issue a green bond on the Swiss stock exchange, worth over CHF 200 million. At the end of the year, it becomes the first Swiss company to disconnect definitively a nuclear power plant (Mühleberg) from the network as planned, after 47 years of safe and reliable operation.

 

Mühleberg nuclear power plant shutdown
On 20 December 2019, BKW shuts down the Mühleberg nuclear power plant for good. © KEYSTONE/Peter Klaunzer

2018

BKW offers solutions in five core areas of expertise: BKW Energy, BKW Power Grid, BKW Engineering, BKW Building Solutions and BKW Infra Services. It continues on its steep growth trajectory and now has more than 7,000 employees.

2017

The Services business area continues to grow. In the Energy business area, BKW steps up the production of renewables. It takes over the Marker wind power project  in Norway, connects three wind farms to the network in France, and commissions two small hydroelectric power plants in Switzerland.

 

Marker wind farm
BKW takes over the Marker wind farm project in 2017; the plant is commissioned in 2019.

2016

In Norway, BKW is involved in the Fosen Vind project, Europe’s largest on-shore wind farm. In Switzerland, it puts four new hydroelectric power plants into operation.  It continues to drive strong growth in the Services business. In the engineering sector, the BKW Group’s portfolio now also includes companies in Germany and Austria, in addition to those in Switzerland. It now employs over 5,000 people, two thirds of whom work outside the traditional Energy and Grid business.

 

Mulegn central of the Ragn d'Err hydroelectric power plant
In 2016, BKW commissions four hydroelectric power plants, including the Ragn d’Err plants in Tinizong.

2015

BKW continues to enjoy significant growth in the Services business area, particularly in the field of building technology, where it launches “Home Energy”.  This modular integrated solution enables home-owners to store, manage and efficiently use the solar power that they produce themselves.

 

Home Energy, a modular integrated solution for the use of self-produced solar electricity.
In 2015, BKW launches Home Energy, a modular integrated solution for the use of self-produced solar electricity.

2014

BKW’s strategy is based on three core business areas: Energy, Grid and Services. As part of this, the company aims to strengthen the Energy business, develop networks and expand the Services business. After already enjoying strong growth in the Services business, BKW now also offers its customers a comprehensive range of infrastructure and energy services. The goal is for the three business areas – Energy, Grid and Services – to contribute equally to the company’s profit (EBIT) in the medium term.

 

2013

BKW decides to continue operating the Mühleberg Nuclear Power Plant until the end of 2019 and then decommission it. As the first company to decommission a nuclear power plant in Switzerland, BKW leads the way for the Swiss energy industry, as it has so often done in the past.

 

Mühleberg nuclear power plant
In 2013 BKW decides to continue operating the Mühleberg nuclear power plant until the end of 2019 and then decommission it.

2012

BKW presents its new strategy “BKW 2030”. Formulated with the phasing out of nuclear power in mind, it focuses primarily on the renewable energies of hydropower and wind in the area of production. Further components of the strategy include the systematic integration of decentralised electricity production, as well as the development of new business models.

 

2011

BKW acquires further wind farms in Italy and Germany  to strengthen its position in this area. Together with 10 other Swiss electricity companies, it forms the association Smart Grid Schweiz to promote and expedite the introduction of smart electricity networks. At its headquarters in Bern, BKW opens its first smart charging station, with two electricity products for electric cars.

 

Holleben wind farm
In 2011, BKW acquires further wind farms, including the Holleben wind farm in Germany.

2010

BKW enhances its presence in the wind power sector. Together with Energie Wasser Bern, it establishes HelveticWind with the aim of building up a wind power portfolio with a total capacity in excess of 100 megawatts. It also acquires the project rights to a wind farm in the federal state of Brandenburg in the north-east of Germany.

 

2009

BKW and Fortore Energia S.p.A., a leading Italian company in the field of wind power generation, enter into a strategic partnership. BKW acquires a 33% stake in the newly formed company Fortore Wind. The aim of the partnership is to build and operate wind farms with a total capacity of around 600 megawatts (MW) by 2016. The partnership consolidates BKW’s leading position among Swiss wind power producers.

 

2006

BKW concludes a contract with the Milan-based company Elettra Holdings GmbH (Elettra) for the acquisition of eight hydroelectric power plants  and two gas power plant projects. It also acquires a 25% share of the gas-fired combined cycle power plant owned by E.ON Energie AG (E.ON) in Livorno Ferraris, northern Italy. It thereby strengthens its position in the Italian market while at the same time uniting its business activities in Italy under BKW Italia S.p.A.

 

Idroelettrica Lombarda
In 2006, BKW acquires eight hydroelectric power plants in Italy (here, Idroelettrica Lombarda).

2003

BKW shares are listed in the main segment of the SIX Swiss Exchange on 28 May 2003. In a secondary placement, around 8% of BKW’s shares are made available to the public on 25 June 2003. BKW thereby lays the foundations for opening itself up to a wider circle of shareholders and improving trading liquidity for its shares. The proportion of shares held by the public (the “free float”) amounts to around 27% after the placement and thereby fulfils the criteria for having the BKW share included in the Swiss Performance Index (SPI). It is listed on 1 October 2003.

 

2002

BKW and the Canton of Jura sign a contract for an energy supply partnership and for the acquisition by BKW of a 35% stake in Energie du Jura SA.

 

2000

BKW has its Aarberg hydroelectric power plant  certified with the “naturemade star” quality label and establishes a related eco fund, which is financed by a levy from the sale of the certified electricity. The fund’s assets go towards environmental improvement measures.

 

Aarberg hydroelectric power plant
In 2000, BKW has the Aarberg hydroelectric power plant certified according to the “naturemade star” quality label.

1999

On 25 June, the General Meeting increases BKW’s share capital from CHF 120 to 132 million. On 26 December, the electricity supply is severely disrupted by hurricane-like storms. BKW lines at all voltage levels with a length of over 3,800 km are temporarily out of service due to damage caused by storm Lothar. It is only thanks to the hard work of up to 450 specialists that the BKW network can be restored to almost full working order within 10 days.

 

A pylon, snapped by storm Lothar.
Storm Lothar causes severe damage to the BKW electricity network, in some cases snapping entire pylons.

1996

BKW commissions its JUVENT wind farm  in the Bernese Jura. The first three turbines are put into operation at the time, and more are added over the years. The older systems are later replaced with new models as part of a “repowering” programme aimed at increasing the wind farm’s annual production to 70 gigawatt hours by 2016.

 

JUVENT wind farm
BKW commissions the JUVENT wind farm in 1996. There are plans to increase its annual production to 70 gigawatt hours by 2016.

1992

On Mont Soleil, the BKW-managed company Gesellschaft Mont-Soleil commissions a solar power plant  bearing the same name. At the time, it is the largest solar power plant in Europe.

 

Mont-Soleil solar power plant
BKW commissions the Mont-Soleil solar power plant in 1992.

1972

With the Mühleberg plant, BKW commissions the third Swiss nuclear power plant after Beznau I and II.

 

The Mühleberg nuclear power plant in 1972.
In 1972, BKW commissions the Mühleberg nuclear power plant.

1969

The BKW share starts trading on the Telephone Exchange Bern on 1 October 1969.

 

1958

Electricity has become an indispensable source of energy in industry, commerce and households. To reduce the risk of power cuts, BKW connects its network to those of other electricity plants. The Swiss, German and French networks are connected in 1958. All countries in Western Europe are now connected to the international electricity network, which means that BKW is involved in the cross-border exchange of electricity from the very beginning.

 

1950

BKW procures a third of its electrical energy from external power plants. To fix the general shortage of electricity, the construction of large storage power plants in the style of KWO begins in the 1950s. They are mostly built and operated by several electricity companies together. The electricity created from the intensive use of hydropower is often referred to as “white coal”.

 

Grimsel pumped storage power plant
In the 1950s he construction of large storage power plants in the style of KWO - like the Grimsel pumped storage power plant - begins.

1925

The importance of hydropower for energy production in Oberhasli is recognised early on. In 1925, BKW forms Kraftwerke Oberhasli AG (KWO) as a subsidiary. Later, the Canton of Basel-Stadt and the cities of Bern and Zurich each acquire one sixth of the share capital. The Handeck I power plant is built with the Grimsel and Gelmer reservoirs between 1925 and 1932. After this initial phase, it is not until 1979 that the expansion (eight dams, nine power plants) is provisionally completed with the commissioning of the Oberaar-Grimsel pumped storage plant.

 

Construction work for the Handeck I power plant
Construction work of the Handeck I power plant

1917

BKW starts the construction of its seventh hydroelectric power plant in Mühleberg.

 

Construction of the Mühleberg hydroelectric power plant
In 1917, BKW starts the construction of the Mühleberg hydroelectric power plant.

1909

The expanding company changes its name to “Bernische Kraftwerke AG”.

 

1903

Five years after the formation of the company, the General Meeting decides to purchase the Kanderwerk with the Spiez power plant. The name is changed accordingly to “Vereinigte Kander- und Hagneckwerke A.-G.”

 

1898

The company “Aktiengesellschaft Elektrizitätswerk Hagneck” is formed with the aim of supplying the Seeland region with electricity. It is a period shaped by pioneers and private initiators, who recognise the potential and promise of the relatively new power plant technology and the transmission of electrical energy over long distances, and help to achieve a breakthrough. Eduard Will, a merchant from Nidau, is the driving force behind the construction of the Hagneck hydroelectric power plant. He is considered the actual founder of BKW.

 

Eduard Will
Eduard Will is considered the founder of BKW.