A popular referendum to endorse the decision of switzerland to phase out atomic energy agency, by 2035. Five reactors are currently in service and provide one-third of the electricity consumed in this country that wants to move towards renewables.
This is the epilogue of a long debate society : the population in switzerland has chosen, in a referendum held on Sunday may 21, 2017, of gradually phasing out nuclear power, an energy that is industrially exploited since 1969. Many votes had been organized since the 1990s, in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident. The first initiative, entitled “For the progressive abandonment of atomic energy” had, however, been postponed with a 52.9 % of people opposed. However, the same referendum had also endorsed the suspension of all new construction of nuclear power plant, enough, net (54.5 per cent of to).
- Nuclear power the French at the crossroads
Again, in may 2003, the population had largely rejected an initiative to phase out nuclear energy (66.3 per cent against), and had even lifted the moratorium, leading to the resurgence of projects of new plants. But the Fukushima disaster had changed the situation, in march 2011, resulting in the federal Council’s decision of gradually phasing out nuclear power by 2034. In spite of all, yet another popular vote was, again, rebuffed the idea in the month of November 2016 by 54 % against. Six months later, the force ratio is finally inverted, as 58.2 per cent were in favour of the abandonment of the atom.
The paradox of switzerland
- The stop of nuclear energy would cost more than 200 billion euros
- Presidential 2017 : nuclear power is a reminder of its strategic role for France
Switzerland has today a fleet of four power plants in operation – the five reactors in all – entered service between 1969 (Beznau I) and 1984 (Leibstadt). Their plants are thus, for half of them, older than the power plant of Fessenheim (owned 15 % by a consortium of energy companies, swiss Axpo, Alpiq and BKW). Some swiss activists demanded yet its immediate closure because of its location too close to their territory. The country gets about a third of its electricity from its own reactor. It is, therefore, the second current source after hydropower (60 %), but remains far ahead of the renewable energy (6 %) referred to rise in power. It should be noted that the year 2016 has been the first in which the swiss Confederation has imported more electricity than it has sold to its neighbors, which may have motivated the decision to transition to renewable energies – and therefore local. The opponents to the judgment of the atom civil regret, for their part, the risk of rising energy prices : the price will actually 1.5 euro cent/kWh 2.3 c€/kWh (+53.3 per cent), but increased support to operators of hydroelectric dams could cost hundreds of millions of euros to the taxpayer each year.
The shutdown of the nuclear industry – in addition to the energy challenge – will also ask the question of waste and materials from déconstructions, in the 20 years that come. For the time being, the combustible radioactive waste are stored in temporary sites in Würenlingen but the accumulated volume on-site (7.500 m3) is without common measure with what you will need to store during the dismantling of power plants (95.000 m3). Research related to final disposal are therefore conducted in the swiss Jura, at the underground laboratory of Mont-Terri, the equivalent of the laboratory of Bure in France. It should also be noted that the development of nuclear power has not been smooth in the heart of the Alps, since a serious incident took place in January 1969 on the research reactor of Lucens, resulting in the contamination of a network of caves and the condemnation of the site.