Krista Leahy

Switzerland Announces Plans to Completely Phase Out Nuclear Power

by , 05/25/11
filed under: News, Renewable Energy

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After over 20,000 protesters marched earlier this week in opposition of nuclear power, the Swiss government has decided to ditch plans to build any new nuclear reactors. The decision comes after Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard suspended the approval of three new rectors, pending more in-depth safety reviews in light of the nuclear tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

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Switzerland currently has five functioning nuclear reactors that provide some 40 percent of the nation’s energy — they will remain open until 2034, when the life span of the last reactor expires. The decision to move away from nuclear energy isn’t just about the safety concerns — it’s also about moving forward with more sustainable energy options. It is expected that nuclear energy will lose its competitive edge as renewable technologies such as solar and wind become more mainstream and efficiencies improve, and this decision will allow Switzerland to act more aggressively to improve and expand its renewable energy programs.

While it’s wonderful that Switzerland is making the move towards a sustainable future, its neighbor, France, has no plans to downgrade its heavy dependency on nuclear energy. About 80 percent of France’s energy is generated from nuclear power plants, and as we’ve seen in Japan nuclear radiation clearly knows no borders — which puts Switzerland and other surrounding nations as somewhat of a risk. The EU, however, is planning safety tests for the 143 operating nuclear facilities within the Union to ensure that what happened in Japan won’t happen in Europe. The tests will involve both natural and man-made disasters, but Greenpeace doesn’t think the tests are up to par — despite the fact that Britain, France and the Czech Republic wanted them to be less thorough.

Nonetheless, Switzerland’s decision to move away from the potentially dangerous energy source is backed by Germany’s decision to speed-up its own nuclear phase-out plans, and the European Commission intends to make the findings of the tests public — which hopefully will encourage other nations to also join the nuclear phase-out movement.

Via New York Times

Lead photo © Brian Kong

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12 Comments

  1. Inhabitat’s Week ... May 30, 2011 at 1:36 am

    [...] plans to construct 10 new solar power plants in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis, while Switzerland announced that it will completely phase out the use of nuclear power. We also showcased a stunning chandelier [...]

  2. Green news and more V2.... May 30, 2011 at 1:20 am

    [...] Underground Pumped Storage Hydroelectricity Plants Proposed For West Harz, Germany – Ecofriend Switzerland Announces Plans to Completely Phase Out Nuclear Power | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Sa… A US Smart Grid Would Save Energy Consumers 2 Trillion Over the Next 20 Years | Inhabitat – Green [...]

  3. RicciAngel News »... May 30, 2011 at 12:16 am

    [...] plans to construct 10 new solar power plants in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis, while Switzerland announced that it will completely phase out the use of nuclear power. We also showcased a stunning chandelier [...]

  4. Inhabitat’s Week ... May 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    [...] plans to construct 10 new solar power plants in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis, while Switzerland announced that it will completely phase out the use of nuclear power. We also showcased a stunning chandelier [...]

  5. Inhabitat’s Week ... May 29, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    [...] plans to build 10 new solar energy plants within the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis, while Switzerland announced that it’ll completely phase out using nuclear power. We also showcased a gorgeous chandelier [...]

  6. gorash May 29, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Nuclear promoters and apologists’ lack of concern for the dangers of radiation is disgusting and disturbing. They truly have a naive, teary-eyed view of nuclear and thinks that it’s the magic bullet to everything.

    Newsflash, nuclear power is DECLINING, while renewables are GROWING. This is a smart move for Switzerland as they will prepare for the future which is obviously renewables. Nuclear is a 50 year old third world technology now, while renewables are the energy source of the 21st century. Get used to it, while more and more nuclear reactors will be shut down in the future, thank God. THE ATOMIC AGE IS OVER, THIS IS THE AGE OF RENEWABLES.

  7. PrankVids news collection May 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    [...] plans to construct 10 new solar power plants in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis, while Switzerland announced that it will completely phase out the use of nuclear power. We also showcased a stunning chandelier [...]

  8. prd prd May 26, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    The extent of nuclear waste goes much farther than what is produced at a Nuclear Power Plant. There is nuclear waste generated at each of the following steps.
    1. Mining
    2. Milling the ore
    3. Conversion of the nearly 100% Uranium to UF6 gas
    4. Enrichment from .7% U235 to 3.2-3.5%
    5. Fabrication of the enriched uranium into fuel pellets and then rods of zircalloy fuel cladding
    6. Spent fuel from the power plant
    Please see SafeEnergyAnalyst.org for more information.
    If we’re going to keep producing electricity with nuclear power plants these issues must be addressed and delt with in a safe manner, one that doesn’t put future generations at risk.

  9. prd prd May 26, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Has anyone figured out what to do with Nuclear Waste? Now that would be some real news! Of course there are those who don’t care what happens to our grandchildrens children, right caeman and siliconleaf!

  10. siliconleaf May 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    This is disappointing and disturbing. A forty-year old reactor is damaged by a 9.0 earthquake, and politicians in a supposedly modern and enlightened nation respond by acting like scared children and Luddites. Atomic is the only zero-emission baseload source of energy available in the present as a proven technology. It’s disgusting how easily people are scared and to see politicians pander to the lowest common denominator instead of making a courageous stand.

  11. idirex May 26, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I am in favor of nuclear , but only Thorium based technology.
    Any other fission tech is dangerous and politically problematic ( weapons , terrorist attack/theft etc). However solar is truly the right and safest way to go.

  12. caeman May 26, 2011 at 8:44 am

    This is a sad, stupid response to the Japan disaster. What should be phased out is the 40 YEAR OLD nuclear plants. The new AP1000 and similar designs are both smaller AND safer. What the Swiss are now doing, along with the Germans, is downright silly and shows a lack of intelligence.

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