Switzerland votes for renewable energy

The Swiss people voted to change their national energy supply from nuclear to renewable energy a few days ago. Under the Swiss system of direct democracy, 58.2% of the Swiss voters backed the government’s plan to ban nuclear power. This development indirectly follows the European Union’s effort to reduce the dependence on nuclear power as well as other European countries national energy policies. In Switzerland and according to an article from “The New York Times”  (May 21, 2017 – “Swiss Voters Back Plan to Phase Out Nuclear Power”) one in five nuclear plants has to close by 2019, while the others will run without a fixed term, but only as long as they meet safety standards. Therefore, will there be a boom in renewable energy projects in Switzerland? Furthermore, how does the development of renewable energy in other European countries look like today?

Rejection of nuclear power in Europe

Ireland is – besides Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Poland, and Latvia – an example of a European country that never produced nuclear power on its own grounds. Mainly due to the resistance of huge parts of the Irish people Ireland did not step into the construction of nuclear power plants, which were on its government’s agenda in the 1960s and 1970s. Austria’s referendum of 1978 to not produce nuclear power on its national territory is also remarkable. Not only because the referendums’ result was understood as a vote against the chancellor at that time, but also because of the fact, that the nuclear plant “Zwentendorf” was already built. Greece decided to stop the construction of its nuclear plant in 1983, which was decided to be built by the Hellenic Parliament in 1976, due to safety concerns. The Danish parliament decided against the generation of nuclear power on its national ground in 1985. Early experimental plants were installed already in the late 1950s and shut down in 2003. The Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986 was the reason for the Italian people to vote in favour of the shutdown of all four national plants by referendum in 1986. After the shutdown of the Lithuanian nuclear plant in 2009, the government pushed on the re-entry but was stopped by its people vote in 2012.

Energy transition after Fukushima

In 2009 the Berlusconi government brought nuclear power in Italy back on the agenda but was cut down on the Fukushima catastrophe of 2011. Furthermore, Fukushima gave the reason for the energy transition in Germany. In 2011 the German Chancellor Merkel pushed the nation toward renewable energy generation.

See which European countries focus on renewable energy:

Country Exit from nuclear power Remaining Plants Nuclear power share of national production*
Sweden 1980 / about-face 2009 3 42% / 65 bn kWh
Belgium 2003 2 38% / 26 bn kWh
Germany 2011 8 25% / 45 bn kWh
France 2015 (50% reduction) 19 75% / 438 bn kWh
Switzerland 2017 5 34% / 23 bn kWh
Bulgaria not planned 1 ±33% / 16 bn kWh
Czech Republic not planned 2 32% / 27 bn kWh
Finland not planned 2 30% / 23 bn kWh
Hungary not planned 1 ±50% / 15.5 bn kWh
Netherlands not planned 1 3.5% / 3.8 bn kWh
Slovakia not planned 2 ±50% / 15.7 bn kWh
Slovenia not planned 1 ±33% / 5.3 bn kWh
Spain not planned 5 20% / 57 bn kWh
United Kingdom not planned 8 21% / 70 bn kWh1

*Source: World Nuclear Association

The European Union’s renewable energy project

The rejection of nuclear power comes along with the EU’s “Energy Strategy and Energy Union”. This EU policy is driven by three main objectives. Namely: sustainability, competitiveness, and security of the European energy market. Moreover, the EU highly depends on foreign suppliers. In 2016 half of its energy demand is imported at a cost of 350 bn euros per year. Hence, the “2050 Energy Strategy” is the main agenda to reduce economic dependence as well as greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% until 2050. In addition, EU countries have also agreed on the Commission’s “2030 Energy Strategy“, which is in line with its long-term targets for 2050. This framework includes:

  • A 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels
  • At least a 27% share of renewable energy consumption
  • At least 27% energy savings compared with the business-as-usual scenario.

As a result, these mid- and long-term renewable energy goals might sound ambitious, regarding the loss of potential energy generation as described above. Consequently, Switzerland and the EU countries have to invest in renewable energy projects to secure their energy demands in the future. Building Radar supports you to find the essential information on renewable energy projects in Europe and worldwide.

Find renewable energy projects with Building Radar!

On Building Radar you are able to find over 2,500 current renewable energy projects. Building Radar helps you to locate renewable energy projects as you can see in the following:
Renewable energy projects in Europe by Building Radar

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