Switzerland opposes building further nuclear power plants

May 25, 2011 by Andre Lehmann
The Muehleberg nuclear power plant is seen behind a road sign in Muehleberg. The Swiss government on Wednesday recommended to parliament that the country's five nuclear power plants should not be replaced as they age, leaving them to be phased out by 2034.

The Swiss government on Wednesday recommended to parliament that the country's five nuclear power plants should not be replaced as they age, leaving them to be phased out by 2034.

The move, to be accompanied by a switch to more renewable energy, follows Switzerland's decision to suspend plans to replace its nuclear power stations in the wake of the Fukushima accident in Japan in April.

"The federal council wishes to continue guaranteeing high security for in Switzerland, but without nuclear in the medium term," an official statement said after the meeting of the seven-member cabinet.

"The current will be shut down at the end of their working lives and will not be replaced," it said, adding that the phasing-out process was both technically possible and economically sustainable.

The first plant to be shut down would be Beznau I in 2019, followed by Beznau II and Muehleberg in 2022, Goesgen in 2029 and Leibstadt in 2034.

Parliament, which generally follows government recommendations, is to begin debating on June 8, and a final decision is expected around the middle of the month.

The ministers were faced Wednesday with the choice between the decision they took, replacing current reactors as they aged or halting the before the end of their lifespans.

The government said it was counting on the development of its already considerable hydro-electric generation and other renewable energy to make up for the loss of nuclear power, while not ruling out importing electricity.

If necessary the country could also fall back on electricity produced by , the statement added, while still respecting targets set under Switzerland's .

It called on the whole country down to village level to set the example by meeting as much of their electricity and heating needs as possible from .

At the same time, industry should cut , it said.

The government predicted that a programmed exit from nuclear energy would favour businesses involved in green technology, boost employment and help Switzerland deal with expected rising electricity prices in Europe.

Initial calculations estimate that the cost of reshaping the country's energy resources, offset by measures to cut consumption, would amount to between 0.4 percent and 0.7 percent of gross domestic product.

"We wanted to give a clear political signal," Environment and Energy Minister Doris Leuthard told a news conference after the cabinet meeting.

"This scenario is a step in the right direction."

Leuthard said that nuclear energy was becoming more expensive, pointing to the cost of making plants safer and more secure.

Explore further: Study shows how to power California with wind, water and sun

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Swiss protest nuclear power

May 23, 2011

About 20,000 people took part in an anti-nuclear demonstration in north Switzerland on Sunday ahead of a government decision on the future of atomic energy in the country.

Spain facing key decision on use of nuclear power

Jun 11, 2009

The Spanish government will have to take a clear stand for or against nuclear power in the coming weeks when it decides whether to renew the operating licence of the oldest of the country's six nuclear plants.

German cabinet approves CO2 storage bill

Apr 13, 2011

Germany's cabinet approved a draft law on storing carbon dioxide underground on Wednesday after months of debate as Europe's top economy wrangles over energy policy following Japan's nuclear disaster.

Finland plans 'massive' renewable energy boost

Apr 20, 2010

Finland's government on Tuesday outlined a plan to massively boost renewable energy production to meet European Union requirements on slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

Recommended for you

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Koondoo
not rated yet May 26, 2011
Unfortunately, there are no comparable energy resource that can replace nuclear power plants at all.
xstos
not rated yet May 31, 2011
Has everybody forgotten that nuclear energy is GREEN? The only emissions come from mining uranium and building the plants which are minimal at best. Three transport trucks full of fuel per year per reactor is all that's needed. Reactors boil water which turn turbines, essentially nuclear-powered hydroelectric generators. Because some stupid irresponsible Japanese nuclear regulators decided that 9.0 quakes were unlikely, their tsunami walls were high enough, that backup generators were flood-proof and that their reactors didn't need passive cooling during power loss, the entire world is being sent back to the energy stone age yet again by anti-nuclear sentiment. Similarly Chernobyl was caused by genius politicians who ordered the plant to increase power during a test where all safeties had been disabled and could not safely ramp up to avoid looking bad at causing a power outage. Notice a pattern? Nuclear reactors don't kill people, people kill nuclear reactors. Epic fail.
pti_val
not rated yet Jun 01, 2011
I'm not agree with you.
what do you mean with "some stupid irresponsible Japanese nuclear regulators" ?
Japan, as a biggest and richest country, have not made the good choice (or calcul..). Chernobyl was in 1986, Fukushima in 2011,and lot of others "small accident"... so it's clear that others accident will happend, in any country (as USA,Switzerland,etc..) in the next century with the nuclear. make the choice for the futur.
A Swiss man.
xstos
not rated yet Jun 01, 2011
richness has nothing to do with it. it is negligence and common stupidity. countries with intelligent nuclear regulators and safety protocols will not have accidents such as what Japan faced. they simply did not do a rigorous enough job in selecting the proper design (GE reactors are not all that safe) and having redundancies targeted for their tsunami / earthquake zone. how many 9.0 earthquakes have you had in Switzerland pti?
pti_val
not rated yet Jun 09, 2011
It's sure, but you won't always predict 100% of what can happend. I heard a "funny" statistics :
now there is about 500 nuclear plant. Until now, 5 "big accident" have been reported. It's 1% of chance to get realy big trouble. for me it's too much risk.

It's clear that we don't have big earthquakes, but I know, for exemple, that some hydroelectric dam, are "only" build to assume 6.0 earthquake, but during the 500 last year, we don't get any big, but if you compare with more that this, it could happend... I'm realy not an expert in the nuclear plant, but for me, even in Europe or USA, big negligence still can happend.