Skip to main content

The Swiss Turn Ever So Slightly Back to Nuclear

beznau
Switzerland's Beznau NPP
Switzerland’s energy profile is one of the cleanest in the world, with virtually no fossil fuel output in the production of electricity. About 55 percent is hydroelectric, 39 percent nuclear (from five reactors) and most of the remainder renewable energy. That profile also highlights problems going forward, as the Swiss would like to end their involvement with nuclear energy by 2034. There’s some more potential in their hydro resources, but shuttering the reactors will hurt. The decision to close the reactors is part of an energy policy and, as we’ve seen in Japan, those can change.

So whither the Swiss? Nuclear or no nuclear?
“It doesn’t make sense to burn one bridge when the other one does not yet exist or is not yet in the process of being built,” said Michael Schorer, spokesman for the Nuclear Forum Switzerland. “We reject the ban on building new nuclear power plants and urge the federal council to devise an additional scenario that includes nuclear energy.”
In this regard the Nuclear Forum is at one with business associations which have objected to the general ban on nuclear energy contained in the government’s Energy Strategy 2050. The on-going consultation procedure ends on January 31, 2013.
That’s one side of it, the side for which the Japan accident has faded in significance and the industry and regulatory responses seen as reasonable.
The Green Party has collected 109,000 signatures in support of a people’s initiative that would require caps on the lifespans of existing nuclear power plants, with decommissioning after an operating period of 45 years. If Swiss voters approve the initiative, the newest nuclear power plant, in Leibstadt, would be decommissioned by 2029.

The Green Party launched the initiative following the catastrophic earthquake and nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011.
That’s the other side, which would prefer you sort of skip from Fukushima to today and ignore all that has happened during the two years between the two – or, maybe, to be be fair, sees industry efforts as inadequate. It could work – the Swiss, anecdotally anyway, are not big fans of nuclear energy. But there’s some doubt.
The initiative is a means of pressuring the government and the parliament “to ensure that the withdrawal from nuclear power does not end up sidelined again,” Urs Scheuss, a Green Party expert on the environment, energy, and transportation, told swissinfo.ch.
Which suggests, at the least, that the Greens feel a moment slipping away and are determined to pin it in place. If the initiative comes off – essentially a referendum – the Greens could find they’ve lost their moment.
But Schweiger believes the initiative will not be approved at the ballot box.
“The problems that are seen as significant, such as the upcoming gap in supplies, will occur much sooner than anticipated. It’s likely that the pragmatism of the voters will play a rather large role.”
Schweiger is Rolf Schweiger, president of the nuclear energy-friendly Campaign for Sensible Energy Politics. If he wants to call the Swiss pragmatic, it saves me from perpetuating a cliché. But there it is.

Let’s say Schweiger and Scheuss have now introduced their dogs into the fight. If the Swiss don’t follow the Bulgarians (see story below) and walk away from the atrocious dogfight, we’ll see. I hadn’t imagined the Swiss might reverse their policy – now I can at least imagine it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Ex-Im Bank Board Nominations Will Turn the Page on a Dysfunctional Chapter in Washington

In our present era of political discord, could Washington agree to support an agency that creates thousands of American jobs by enabling U.S. companies of all sizes to compete in foreign markets? What if that agency generated nearly billions of dollars more in revenue than the cost of its operations and returned that money – $7 billion over the past two decades – to U.S. taxpayers? In fact, that agency, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), was reauthorized by a large majority of Congress in 2015. To be sure, the matter was not without controversy. A bipartisan House coalition resorted to a rarely-used parliamentary maneuver in order to force a vote. But when Congress voted, Ex-Im Bank won a supermajority in the House and a large majority in the Senate. For almost two years, however, Ex-Im Bank has been unable to function fully because a single Senate committee chairman prevented the confirmation of nominees to its Board of Directors. Without a quorum

An Ohio School Board Is Working to Save Nuclear Plants

Ohio faces a decision soon about its two nuclear reactors, Davis-Besse and Perry, and on Wednesday, neighbors of one of those plants issued a cry for help. The reactors’ problem is that the price of electricity they sell on the high-voltage grid is depressed, mostly because of a surplus of natural gas. And the reactors do not get any revenue for the other benefits they provide. Some of those benefits are regional – emissions-free electricity, reliability with months of fuel on-site, and diversity in case of problems or price spikes with gas or coal, state and federal payroll taxes, and national economic stimulus as the plants buy fuel, supplies and services. Some of the benefits are highly localized, including employment and property taxes. One locality is already feeling the pinch: Oak Harbor on Lake Erie, home to Davis-Besse. The town has a middle school in a building that is 106 years old, and an elementary school from the 1950s, and on May 2 was scheduled to have a referendu

Why #NEA17 Is at the Intersection of Nuclear’s Present and Future

Nuclear power is working for America. On May 22, hundreds of engineers, scientists, plant operators, entrepreneurs and students will gather in Scottsdale, at the annual Nuclear Energy Assembly , to talk about the multiple benefits that our technology provides, and the challenges and opportunities ahead. In preparation, NEI's Matt Wald sat down recently with Lenka Kollar , the director of business strategy at NuScale Power , the company that submitted the first application for design certification of a small modular reactor . Lenka will be a panelist on the first day of the conference. NuScale is one of several companies working on small modular reactors, reactors that can be built in a factory and then shipped by barge, rail or truck to sites around the country or the world. It’s not quite plug-and-play, but it’s closer to it than anything the nuclear industry has done so far. NuScale is further down the path to deployment than others; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rece