Three energy utility companies have admitted defeat in their bid to build more nuclear power plants in Switzerland by formally withdrawing a long-standing application on Wednesday.
Axpo, Alpiq and BKW informed the government that their framework request from 2008 was no longer valid. The application was put on ice in 2011 following the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, which led to a Swiss decision to phase out all existing plants by 2050.
“The energy world has changed fundamentally since the framework permit applications for replacement nuclear power plants were submitted in the year 2008,” a joint statement read. “Today the market is a very different one, and in the meantime, policy-makers have set the course for a future without nuclear power.”
The application had envisaged three new power plants – Beznau III, Gösgen II and a replacement for the Mühleberg plant. The withdrawal of the request has cost the three companies a combined CHF80 million ($81 million) in planning expenses.
Approximately 40% of Switzerland's energy comes from its five nuclear power. Switzerland’s Energy Strategy 2050 plans to bridge the gap through increased use of hydropower and alternative energy sources and with energy efficiencies.
The rightwing People’s Party has threatened to challenge this strategy with an initiative, arguing that it is irresponsible to phase out nuclear power in Switzerland completely.
Voters will decide on a Green Party initiative, calling for the accelerated decommissioning of the five nuclear power plants, on November 27.
The two oldest working nuclear power plants in the world currently operate in Switzerland – Beznau (built in 1969) in canton Aargau and Mühleberg, canton Bern. Both are scheduled to be mothballed in 2019.