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Nuclear phase-out

May 25, 2011

Nuclear power provides 40 percent of Switzerland's electricity. But under pressure from growing anti-nuclear sentiment, the government has proposed a complete phase-out by 2034.

Power plant stack illuminated with Swiss flag
Forty percent of Swiss electricity comes from nuclear powerImage: AP

The Swiss government on Wednesday made a recommendation to parliament to phase out nuclear power by 2034, following a rise in anti-nuclear sentiment after the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant.

"The federal council wishes to continue guaranteeing high security for energy supply in Switzerland, but without nuclear in the medium term," the government said in a statement. "The current nuclear power plants will be shut down at the end of their working lives and will not be replaced."

The government said the phase-out would be both technically possible and economically sustainable.

Last weekend some 20,000 people held Switzerland's biggest anti-nuclear protest in 25 years in the northern canton of Aargau, near the Beznau nuclear power plant.

Beznau would be the first plant to shut down in 2019, and the last plant would be deactivated in 2034. Switzerland's five nuclear plants produce 40 percent of the Alpine country's electricity requirements.

Switzerland was the first country to suspend plans to build new nuclear power plants after the Fukushima accident. The government also put on hold the approval process of three new nuclear power stations last March, in anticipation of a safety review.

Parliament is scheduled to begin debating draft legislation on June 8, with the final decision expected later in the month.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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