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Swiss Reject Plan for Early Close of Nation's Nuclear Plants

Dan Yurman's picture
Editor & Publisher NeutronBytes, a blog about nuclear energy

Publisher of NeutronBytes, a blog about nuclear energy online since 2007.  Consultant and project manager for technology innovation processes and new product / program development for commercial...

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  • Nov 28, 2016 10:00 am GMT

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The proposal put forward by green groups was defeated by a vote of 56% against it.

swiss nukes(WNN) – The proposal to force older nuclear power plants to close in Switzerland has been rejected in a referendum by a vote of 56% to 44% to retain the units.

With 56% of people have voted ‘No’ to the rapid phase out, the election records a clear victory by winning both the popular vote and by taking majorities in the most cantons.

Switzerland went to the polls on a further proposal that would have accelerated the retirements by forcing reactors to close at the age of 45. Because they are already over this age, Beznau 1 and 2 as well as Muehleberg would have closed in 2017. Gösgen would have followed in 2024, and Leibstadt in 2029.

The five reactors that provide over one-third of electricity can continue to operate according to their economic lives.

Daniel Aegerter, co-founder of campaign group Energy for Humanity (EfH) told WNN:

“Swiss voters have sent a strong message to world by rejecting the Greens’ disorderly nuclear exit initiative. Our efforts now must be on expanding clean electricity generation, not shutting it down.”

Wolfgang Denk, european director of EfH said:

“Germany has been trying for years to succeed with their energy transition and they are facing huge difficulties. By keeping their existing plants online, Switzerland will be in a much better position to face the upcoming challenges in climate change and the energy sector in general.”

Nuclear power is Switzerland’s second largest source of electricity, providing about 35% of electricity in 2015 and complementing 52% hydro to give the country one of the cleanest and most secure electricity systems in the world.

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Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 28, 2016

The threat of electricity shortages played a role as France has 10-20NPP’s offline due to the fraud by Areva regarding supplied nuclear parts.

The three oldest and smaller (<500MW) NPP's in Switzerland will close anyway wihin a few years as soon as possible, as the owner makes substantial losses.

The two bigger (~1.1GW) NPP's may last a little longer until enough other capacity is installed. Those two were offered for free to EDF who refused.

Replacement by nuclear is out of order as an earlier referendum banned new nuclear.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 28, 2016

Bas, your dedication is admirable.

But nuclear is not going away – it’s too useful and too practical. If you honestly think it will, you’re in denial.

If nuclear safety worries you, why don’t you address specific issues? To pout over, and over, and over again because it exists is “out of order”.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 28, 2016

due to the fraud by Areva regarding supplied nuclear parts.

Sure, while stealing pension checks from the mailboxes of grannies, as that’s what nukes do in the World of Bas.

Replacement by nuclear is out of order as an earlier referendum banned new nuclear.

No, not a referendum. The Swiss did pass a ten year moratorium on new nuclear (55%) in 1990 via public referendum, and then after it lapsed, definitively overturned it in a 2003 pro-nuclear referendum outcome. Another referendum in 2011 supported new nuclear power. However, the government in 2011 via the Federal Council declared no new nuclear, which, with no rapid phase out (per the article), means a 2034 phase out is the current default by the government. If future governments change per the current will of the people indicated in the referenda, new nuclear would be built. All three of the major Swiss utilities have recently drawn up proposals for new nuclear plants, though none are currently submitted.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 29, 2016

You are right it wasn’t a referendum.
The Bundesrat (govt) decided to stop with all new nuclear in 2011. Which decision was then supported by the Nationalrat (parliament) and the Ständerat (the kantons).

A national poll in 2014 concluded that 77% of the Swiss people would vote in favor of all nuclear out in 2034 (when all present NPP’s are at the end of their life).

The referendum your refer concerned a kantonal referendum. Kanton Bern, which has a NPP (which will be closed in 2019), with associated employment. Won’t make a difference.

The post states that 56% voted no, but 54.2% voted no against the proposal to a speed up of the closure of all nuclear greatly.

If you google you can read more about the many years ongoing fraud at Areva, which necessitate the temporal closure of 10-20 French NPP’s (read French pages).

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 29, 2016

Won’t make a difference.

Not sure why you imagine anyone is interested in your stream of baseless predictions for the future, when the people of Switzerland just made a statement for the record as to what they want. If youre obsessed about predictions, here’s one: you ‘won’t make a difference.’

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Nov 29, 2016

It is not true that Areva carried out any “fraud” with regard to reactor parts. The firm has been cooperating with the French nuclear safety agency on inspections and evaluation of the steel in the reactor pressure vessels.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 29, 2016

Mark, I’ve noticed the “crystal ball” phenomenon becoming a popular technique for advocacy here on TEC.

Bas and others attempt to give their positions a psychological veneer by describing a future of foregone conclusions. Who can deny what’s already happened?

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 29, 2016

Areva’s fraud concerns critical nuclear parts, but not the steel of the reactor pressure vessels of the temporal closed 10-20 French NPP’s.

The major problems with the EPR reactor vessels concern hair cracks in the forged steel of mainly the bottom of the vessels. They concern all Areva produced new EPR reactor vessels; Hinkley C, Flamanville and the two Chinese EPR’s.

The Finnish EPR vessel is produced by another firm and has no hair cracks. Not clear whether another firm was chosen because the Finnish regulator is very thorough and would have detected the cracks.

Darius Bentvels's picture
Darius Bentvels on Nov 29, 2016

You can find the closure of the Berner NPP (Mühleberg) in 2019 at many sites, even at Wikipedia.

More will follow as the smaller Swiss NPP’s make major losses, just as the ~30% loss which the Dutch NPP (Borssele) makes.
According to “Welt‘ the total loss of all 5 reactors would ~$2,000mln/a…

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Nov 29, 2016

More will follow…

And again. Like an uncontrollable mental tic.

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Dec 1, 2016

For a review of the claims, and counter claims, see PowerMag for May 4, 2016. Areva claims the issues relate to documentation issues, but it appears the issue goes deeper and may involve false statements that some parts passed inspection at the manufacturing facility when in fact they should have been rejected or reworked.

The issues with the bottoms of the RPVs involves issues associated with the amount of carbon in the steel forgings. Following is a snip from a report by World Nuclear News for April 14, 2016

“The French nuclear regulator – the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) – released information in April 2015 about the discovery of anomalies in the composition of the steel in certain parts of the reactor vessel of the EPR under construction at Flamanville.

Chemical and mechanical tests were conducted by Areva in late 2014 on a vessel head similar to that of the Flamanville EPR. These test results “revealed the presence of a zone in which there was a high carbon concentration, leading to lower than expected mechanical toughness values”.

Both affected components – the vessel head and the vessel bottom – were manufactured at Areva’s Chalon/Saint-Marcel plant in France.”

The entire article can be read at this URL

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