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Basel powers ahead on renewable energy

The northern city of Basel is the first in Switzerland that has decided to go over entirely to renewable energy.

The city government announced on Wednesday that it was making available more than SFr1.7 million ($1.5 million) to enable the local electricity supply company to buy CO2 emission certificates up to 2011, while continuing to expand its own green energy sources.

The certificates are bought from producers of energy from renewable sources, in order to compensate for the power the city is obliged to take from nuclear and coal-powered stations. At the moment this accounts for between ten and 20 per cent of the city's energy usage.

The city already gets the rest of its energy from renewable sources, including water and wind.

Buying the certificates is regarded as equivalent to producing the power itself.

In 2009, the cost of these certificates will add 0.03 cents to every kilowatt hour, which will be borne by the power company, not the customers.

In the long run the power company wants to produce more energy from its own renewable resources.

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