Switzerland to Decommission All 5 of Its Nuclear Power Plant
Majority of people in Switzerland have voted in favor of the referendum that proposes the decommissioning all five of its nuclear power plants to pave way to cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy.
The Swiss use a system of direct democracy, which means voters have the final say on major policy issues like energy policy. The referendum to decommission the country's nuclear power plants garnered 58.2 percent of the voters.
Aside from phasing out existing nuclear power plants, the referendum also bans the construction of new nuclear power plants. Additionally, Switzerland plans to strengthen its renewable energy sector, boosting funds and support to natural power sources like solar, wind and hydro.
"The Swiss population has said 'no' to the construction of new nuclear power plants and yes to the development of renewable energy," said Regula Rytz, president of Switzerland's Green party, in a report from BBC. "The conditions have also been set whereby the economy and households will need to take responsibility for the future."
The closing of the nuclear power plants was first proposed in 2011, after an earthquake and tsunami triggered core meltdowns at three of the reactors in a nuclear power plant located in Fukushima, Japan.
As part of the referendum, $660 million will be raised annually from electric users to fund the investment in renewable energy sources. Additionally, $620 million will be taken from existing fossil fuels tax to help improve the energy efficiency of buildings, cutting down their energy requirements by 43 percent by 2035, as per Reuters.
Set to take effect in January 2018, the referendum would cost the average family an additional of $55 annually due to higher grid surcharge to fund renewable subsidies.
At present, nuclear power plants supply 35 percent of Switzerland's energy production. It is significantly higher than solar and wind that only provides less than 5 percent of the country's energy output. Hydroelectric power plants have the highest energy output and are responsible for 60 percent of the nation's energy production.