Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Swiss Energy Minister Discusses Nuclear and What Takes Its Place

Last night I attended a dinner at the Swiss Embassy where the Swiss official who runs the equivalent of our departments of energy, environment, transportation, and communications (all of them) said the Swiss decision to phase out its 5 nuclear reactors by 2034 was a result of Fukushima and costs of new construction.

Fukushima convinced Switzerland that the risks of operation are too high, especially in a small country, and the costs of new nuclear plants were too much as well.

Switzerland gets 38% of its electricity from its 5 nuclear reactors and 60% from hydro.  By comparison, the US gets about 20% of its electricity from nuclear but has 104 nuclear reactors.

The Swiss plan to replace nuclear power with increased energy efficiency, more hydro, and combined heat and power projects, biomass, wind, and solar.  They also are taking more time to end nuclear power than Germany.

The transition from nuclear won't be easy and seemed to trouble a number of the American dinner guests.  But the Swiss have a long history of going their own way.

No comments:

Post a Comment