Energy Minister Doris Leuthard still thinks it is correct to phase out nuclear energy, saying the change in energy policy is a “great chance for Switzerland” if the country positions itself well.
“The turnaround is already taking place,” Leuthard told media in Bern on Wednesday, pointing to the increase in renewable energies. She was presenting the first set of the government’s measures to achieve the Energy Strategy 2050.
The government estimates that around half of the long-term targets would be achieved with this first package.
According to Energy Strategy 2050, devised in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima, energy consumption is to be reduced by more than a third by 2035 and nearly half by 2050.
The energy-saving measures will have the most effect on fossil fuels (petroleum, gas and coal), which currently cover 70 per cent of the total energy needs. Their contribution is to dip below 50 per cent by 2050, while the remaining need is to be met almost exclusively by renewable energy sources.
Consumption of electricity is supposed to diminish gradually. Giving up atomic energy – 40 per cent of today’s electricity – is to be made up almost entirely by new renewable energy, such as solar and wind.
To limit opposition to the building of new power plants, exploitation of renewable energy is being declared “in the national interest”, with higher priority than nature and the landscape.
The government expects the new renewable energy plants to cost CHF30 billion ($32 billion) and the price of energy to increase 20-30 per cent by 2050.
Following the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the Swiss government suspended all processes relating to the building of new power plants and ordered a review of options for the country’s energy mix in the future.
Two months later, the cabinet announced it wanted to gradually decommission the country's nuclear power plants by 2034.
However, it still refuses to set an exact date for individual reactors.
Leuthard said at the time that the country’s five nuclear power stations would not be replaced when they reach the end of their lifespan.
swissinfo.ch and agencies