Swiss vote to withdraw country from use of nuclear power

Provisional final figures showed support at 58.2% under the Swiss system of direct democracy, which gives voters final say on major policy issues.

Germany promised to phase out all of its nuclear power plants by 2022.

While many countries - including South Africa - look at expanding their nuclear power footprint, Switzerland has voted to phase out nuclear energy.

The European nation has five aging nuclear power plants, providing one-third of its energy needs at present.

Energy law will support new renewable supplies and energy efficiency while banning new nuclear power plants.

This Swiss initiative mimics a Europe-wide effort to reduce dependence on nuclear power, inspired by the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

The BBC reports that the government first proposed phasing out nuclear plants in 2011, after the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan, when an quake and tsunami led to core meltdowns at three of the reactors at the nuclear power plant. Generation from solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources are to increase from 2831 GWh to at least 11,400 GWh by 2035.

But, according to the president of Switzerland's Green party, Regula Rytz, the vote was a "moment of historic change", BBC reported. The electrical and mechanical engineering sector said it was important to see how the energy transition law would be implemented.

There is no date yet to decommission the facilities, but the country will now aim to increase reliance on sources like solar, wind and hydro power. "It is also important for companies that the costs and the regulatory burden not swell", it said.

Switzerland has an ambitious target of reducing the average annual energy consumption per person by 43% by 2035 compared with levels in 2000. Five Switzerland's nuclear power plants will continue to operate for 10-15 years more, but new NPPs will not be built.

Under the law, Switzerland plans to cut its energy consumption nearly by half by 2035 as compared to levels seen in 2000 and introduce stricter regulations for vehicle Carbon dioxide emissions. The law will ban the construction of new plants.

The government has rejected that claim, maintaining that the additional cost per household would be about 40 Swiss francs per year compared to today's prices.

  • Zachary Reyes