Switzerland residents vote on referendum to abandon nuclear energy, after long-lasting debate for the danger of nuclear power plants, following the accident in Fukushima in 2011. Since 2011 the opposition parties of the Greens and the Social Democrats insist for the referendum. The government and industry are opposed, arguing that if the vote is against nuclear energy, Switzerland does not have the capacity to replace the plants.
If Switzerland give up from usage of nuclear energy, the nuclear risk to the country will be reduced. However, the country will either increase the use of fossil energy resources – for example, will increase imports of coal from Germany, or will import power generated by nuclear power plants in France.
About 67% of Switzerland’s electricity is produced by hydroelectric plants in the Alps. However the remaining electricity comes from nuclear plants. The Swiss must decide whether to shut down the reactors before the expiry of their operation, which is 2029.
Switzerland has four nuclear power plants. One of the reactors – NPP Betsnau, is the oldest in the world, which is still in commercial operation. Unit operating since 1969, and among the criticisms against it is that it is too close to settlements.
The proponents of nuclear energy calculated that the early closure of the plant will cost over 7 billion CHF. They say that the best option was reactors to operate as long as possible to recover investments made to raise the necessary funds for decommissioning and finding alternative power – solar or wind power.
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