Switzerland - Plutonium Investigation n°8

Switzerland : Natural Nuclear Phase-Out

Switzerland has developed a nuclear power programme since the middle of the 1960s. It has replaced a significant share of the traditional domestic hydro power. However, since the middle of the 1980s all projects for additional reactors have progressively been abandoned. Finally, on 23 September 1990, the Swiss people voted for a ten year moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants. In 1996, the Federal Council, i.e., the Government, signed an indemnity agreement with the promoters of two plants (Graben and Kaiseraugst) which had been ordered before the moratorium. So the previous plans to double the nuclear capacity to 6,000 MWe have been abandoned. Currently, there are therefore no plans to replace the existing nuclear power plants though some nuclear power increase has been effected (in Mühleberg by 15 per cent), and, accordingly, an application by Leibstadt is pending both of which is a violation of the 1990 sovereign vote. Decommissioning is expected to begin sometime after 2005.

In 1997, out of a total of 59 billion kWh net generated domestically, 41% came from nuclear power plants, while 56% came from hydro power. There are five ageing nuclear power reactors, which have been commercially operated since 1969, 1972 (2), 1979, and 1984 respectively. The units are located on four sites and are operated by four different electricity utilities.

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