Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Nuclear Country Notes
There are three PWRs and two BWRs in operation, with a total net generating capacity of 3 220 MWe. All five reactors were commissioned between 1969 and 1984. Their output in 2005 accounted for 38% of Switzerland's total power generation.
In May 2003, two popular initiatives - one to extend a moratorium on the construction of nuclear plants that had lapsed in 2000, the other to phase out nuclear plants altogether - were rejected by majorities of 58.4% and 66.3%, respectively. A new Nuclear Energy Law (NEL) came into force in February 2005, along with a new main Nuclear Energy Ordinance (NEO). The NEL keeps the nuclear option open, addresses key issues relating to radioactive waste management and clearly empowers the Federal Council to authorise construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear installations. Controversies on reprocessing were circumvented by a temporary ban (until 2016) on exports of spent nuclear fuels.
Decommissioning of the three oldest nuclear power plants, Beznau I and II and Mühleberg, with a combined capacity of 1 085 MWe (one-third of the country's total nuclear capacity) is expected around 2020. Furthermore, drawing rights for some 2 500 MWe of French nuclear capacity will have to be renewed. Replacement of this capacity will be one of the major challenges for Swiss energy policy in the coming years, which has prompted a review of long-term energy perspectives. In presenting a new energy policy on 21 February 2007, the Federal Energy Minister announced that the Cabinet had decided that the existing five reactors should in due course be replaced by new nuclear plants.