Swiss Say No More Nukes

Monday, October 3, 2011 @ 03:10 PM gHale


The Swiss will phase out the country’s nuclear plants over the next two decades in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The Swiss parliament’s upper house vote followed a June vote by the lower chamber to back an exit from nuclear energy recommended by the government, which had earlier frozen plans for a new construction program after the Fukushima atomic plant explosion.

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In lieu of nuclear power, the country will now count on the development of its already considerable hydro-electric plants and other renewable energy to make up for the loss.

If necessary the country could also fall back on electricity produced by fossil fuels, a statement added, while still respecting targets set under Switzerland’s climate change policy.

Under the government’s recommendation, the first nuclear plant to shut down would be Beznau I in 2019, followed by Beznau II and Muehleberg in 2022, Goegen in 2029 and Leibstadt in 2034.

The government predicted that such a programmed phasing out of nuclear energy would favor businesses involved in green technology, boost employment and help Switzerland deal with expected rising electricity prices in Europe.

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

Environment and Energy Minister Doris Leuthard also noted nuclear energy was becoming more expensive, due to the rising cost of making plants safer and more secure.

The move to halt atomic energy has its opposition as the federation of Swiss businesses EconomieSuisse, said the move is an “irresponsible decision.”

The association of Swiss electricity companies applauded the decision for a progressive end to nuclear energy, rather than an immediate stop.

“The continuation of these plants gives us time to find solutions amid a shortage as well as implement more efficient measures,” it said.

However, the association stressed the population must have a say in the decision.

Germany has also opted to shut down all of its nuclear reactors by the end of 2022 after an earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the Fukushima plant.



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