Swiss re­ject quick exit from nu­clear power

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

ZURICH: Swiss voted in a ref­er­en­dum yes­ter­day to re­ject a speedy exit from the na­tion’s five nu­clear power plants, as con­cerns over los­ing en­ergy in­de­pen­dence out­weighed safety wor­ries raised by the mea­sure’s pro­po­nents. Nearly 55 per­cent of vot­ers turned down the ini­tia­tive, with 45 per­cent fa­vor­ing it in a vote that was part of the Swiss sys­tem of di­rect democ­racy giv­ing cit­i­zens a fi­nal say on im­por­tant is­sues. Swiss re­ac­tors Muehle­berg and Bez­nau I and II would have been shut­tered next year, fol­lowed by Goes­gen in 2024 and Leib­stadt in 2029, had the ini­tia­tive passed.

The Swiss govern­ment and in­dus­try fought the plan, say­ing it could have led to black­outs, higher costs and the loss of en­ergy in­de­pen­dence be­cause the coun­try would have be­come more de­pen­dent on coal-fired power from neigh­bor­ing Ger­many. “We’re very happy Swiss vot­ers are giv­ing such an ex­plicit re­sult,” said Heinz Kar­rer, a for­mer head of the util­ity Axpo and cur­rent pres­i­dent of the pro-busi­ness group Economiesu­isse, in an in­ter­view on state-run tele­vi­sion SRF. “Switzer­land’s peo­ple don’t want a rad­i­cal so­lu­tion,” he said. “It would have caused un­cer­tain­ties about our en­ergy sup­ply, some­thing Swiss peo­ple were un­will­ing to risk.”

Ger­many plans to shut­ter its re­main­ing nu­clear plants by 2022, a re­sponse to the 2011 dis­as­ter in Ja­pan that also prompted the Swiss ini­tia­tive. Switzer­land has a 2050 en­ergy strat­egy in which it would grad­u­ally re­place nu­clear power that now sup­plies about a third of the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity with re­new­ables, in­clud­ing wind and so­lar. —Reuters

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