In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, it seems nobody can stay neutral on nuclear power, not even Switzerland. The country has abandoned plans for new nuclear reactors, and while the five existing reactors will be allowed to keep operating, they won't be replaced.
Nuclear in Switzerland will be entirely phased out by 2034, and officials say the 20-plus year interim will allow them time to develop energy alternatives to take over the significant power Switzerland now gets from nuclear — 40 percent of the country's total power capacity. Switzerland joins Germany in turning its back on nuclear, though neighbor France is holding fast to the technology.
This all has more to do with cost calculations — new safety measures will bump the cost of nuclear above that of alternative renewables — than with safety concerns. After all, if we abandoned every energy source that killed people (which, indeed, it's not clear the Fukushima meltdown has), nobody would use coal or oil. Public opinion just might have something to do with it, too. Switzerland's announcement followed a 20,000-person anti-nuclear rally.
- Switzerland Decides on Nuclear Phase-Out, New York Times
Get Grist in your inbox