Switzerland becomes the latest country to ditch nuclear power

22 May 2017

Image: BESTWEB/Shutterstock

Switzerland is the latest European state to announce it will close its nuclear power plants in favour of newer sources of renewable energy.

Once seen as the power source of the future, nuclear fission power plants are quickly becoming an unwanted legacy of the Cold War era.

Major nuclear incidents have been driving this demand for change, notably the Chernobyl disaster in 1987, and the more recent Fukushima meltdown in Japan, following the massive tsunami that struck in 2011.

In Europe alone, five countries – Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Sweden – have revealed their intentions to close all nuclear power plants by the middle of the next decade.

Now, according to the BBC, the latest country to join is Switzerland.

In a referendum held on 21 May, 58pc of voters gave the go-ahead for the government to phase out its five nuclear power plants, which currently provide one-third of its total power supply.

In its place, investments will be made in newer renewable energy technology such as wind, solar and hydro power.

Unlike some other countries who have also agreed to phase out the plants, though, Switzerland has not yet given a definitive date for their closure.

The decision is seen as a victory for the country’s Green Party, with its leader, Regula Rytz, describing it as “absolutely magnificent”.

“The Swiss population has said ‘no’ to the construction of new nuclear power plants and ‘yes’ to the development of renewable energy,” she said. “The conditions have also been set whereby the economy and households will need to take responsibility for the future.”

India goes the other way

Meanwhile, in other countries, plans are underway to ramp up nuclear power production to meet the enormous energy demands of their populations.

India recently (18 May) revealed plans to add another 10 nuclear power plants in the years to come.

With 22 nuclear plants already operational, the 10 new plants will add 7,000MW of power and will “help produce clean energy”, according to the country’s power minister, Piyush Goyal.

The project is expected to create 33,000 jobs and generate $11bn worth of business.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic