Germany responded swiftly to the Japanese nuclear crisis by announcing a decision to phase out its older nuclear stations. Japan followed a few weeks later saying that it intends to focus on renewable energy (although it won’t do away with nuclear power altogether). And now Switzerland is looking to hydropower to secure its energy future, also moving away from nuclear power.
Last Wednesday the Swiss government recommended to parliament that the land-locked nation’s five nuclear plants should not be replaced, according to an AFP report. This would mean they would be phased out by 2034.
As nuclear power exists the country’s energy mix stage, it would be replaced with renewable power such as hydro. “The federal council wishes to continue guaranteeing high security for energy supply in Switzerland, but without nuclear in the medium term,” the cabinet said in an official statement. It added that it was both technically and financially sustainable to do so.
Beznau I will be the first plant to be shut down in 2019 while Beznau II and Muehleberg will be shut down in 2022. Goesgen will be retired in 2029 and Leibstadt in 2034.
Parliament will begin debating draft legislation early in June and before the end of the month a final decision is expected to have been made.
The government did admit that if necessary it may have to import electricity and resort to fossil fuel generated power but it promised it will respect targets set out by the country’s climate change policy.
The Swiss government’s decision is a political one. It wants to signal that it is creating an environment that is favorable for green technology, which can generate new jobs and help the country to achieve energy independence. Swiss is also trying to protect itself against rising electricity prices as nuclear becomes more expensive in order to meet safety requirements.
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.