Swiss voters rejected in a referendum on Sunday a strict timetable to phase out nuclear energy by 2029Swiss voters rejected in a referendum on Sunday a strict timetable to phase out nuclear energy by 2029, with 54.2 percent of people voting against the plan.
Switzerland currently has five nuclear power plants in operation, which produce around 40 percent of the country’s electricity. Under the initiative, backed by the Green Party and put up for referendum, the Swiss were asked to vote whether the country should close the Muehleberg and Beznau 1 and 2 nuclear power stations next year, the Goesgen facility in 2024, and the Leibstadt power plant - in 2029.
Switzerland’s government and Parliament had opposed the strict timetable phase-out, arguing that the premature closure of the nuclear power stations could not be compensated quickly enough by electricity generated by renewables, and therefore the country would have to rely on imports of electricity in the coming years.
After the Fukushima reactor disaster in 2011, Switzerland’s government and Parliament adopted the Energy Strategy 2050 that calls for gradual withdrawal from nuclear energy production. The strategy stipulates that Switzerland will shutter the five operating nuclear power plants at the end of their technically safe operating life, and will not replace them with new nuclear power generation.
After Fukushima, Switzerland’s neighbor, Germany, also decided to phase out the use of nuclear power—but on a quicker timetable, planning to have them phased out by 2022.
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The Swiss electricity industry had also fought against the early nuclear phase-out plan, with representatives saying that an earlier exit would mean instability of supplies, increased costs for imports, and lost revenues from nuclear power production.
A week before the vote, Tobias Kistner, a spokesman for utility Axpo, told Bloomberg in an e-mail:
“The risk of grid instabilities and ultimately blackouts would increase dramatically.”
Following Sunday’s referendum result, Axpo said in a statement that the outcome of the vote was a very good decision for the security of Switzerland’s power supply.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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