Currently, solar and wind power account for less than 5 percent of Switzerland’s energy output, while power from water accounts for 60 percent and nuclear power accounts for 35 percent. But, that’s all changing. In May of this year, Swiss voters “backed the government’s plan to ban new nuclear plants, provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, and help bail out struggling utilities.”1 The vote showed that the public is ready to follow other European countries in using safe, renewable energy. (Germany intends to phase out nuclear power by 2022, Austria banned it decades ago.)
“The law, known as Energy Strategy 2050, will ban the construction of new nuclear plants. Switzerland has five such plants, with the first scheduled to close in 2019. The others will be allowed to run as long as they meet safety standards.”2
The proposed law was not without its detractors though, with most of the debate focused on the additional costs to taxpayers; “critics argued that a family of four would pay an additional 3,200 francs in annual costs. They also said that more intermittent wind and solar energy would mean greater reliance on imported electricity. Switzerland was a net power importer in 2016.” 3
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Electricity users will need to come up with 480 million francs every year to finance investment in wind, solar, and hydro power. An additional 450 million francs will be set aside from an existing fossil fuels tax that will help reduce energy use in buildings by 43 percent by 2035.
It may be an investment up front but it’s time. If we have any hope of saving this planet we need to start using sources of renewable energy- like 20 years ago. However, since we can’t go back in time, there’s no time like the present. We applaud their decision.