The proposal to force older nuclear power plants to close in Switzerland has been rejected in a referendum. The five reactors that provide over one-third of electricity can continue to operate according to their economic lives.
Nuclear power is Switzerland’s second largest source of electricity, providing about 35% of electricity in 2015 and complementing 52% hydro to give the country one of the cleanest and most secure electricity systems in the world.
In 2010 there were active plans to replace the five current reactors based on a supportive referendum and confirmation by regulators that the sites were suitable. This program was scrapped by a National Council vote in June 2011, just four months after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, and Switzerland was put on a path to lose nuclear power when existing reactors retired in the 2030s and 2040s.
Today Switzerland went to the polls on a further proposal that would have accelerated the retirements by forcing reactors to close at the age of 45. Because they are already over this age, Beznau 1 and 2 as well as Muehleberg would have closed in 2017. Gösgen would have followed in 2024, and Leibstadt in 2029.
|Muehleberg (Image: BKW)|
A majority – 54.2% – of people voted ‘No’ to the rapid phase out, recording a clear victory by winning both the popular vote and by taking majorities in the most cantons. The participation rate in the referendum was some 45% of voters.
The Swiss Nuclear Forum said, “Swiss voters have expressed their confidence in the nuclear power plant operators and in the safety authorities by a clear majority. The clear rejection of the nuclear phase-out initiative shows that the Swiss attach great importance to a reliable and environmentally friendly power supply with domestic plants.”