Switzerland votes to phase out nuclear energy and shift to renewable sources instead

The Swiss have voted in favour of new rules that will see nuclear energy gradually phased out in favour of renewable energy.

On Sunday there was a referendum on government plans to transition from relying on nuclear energy to renewable energy sources instead.

The majority of voters backed the government plans, boosting subsidies for renewable energy and banning new nuclear plants.

Currently, a third of energy in Switzerland energy is delivered by five ageing nuclear power plants. There is no date for when these plants will be decommissioned. One is slated to close in 2019, while the rest are expected to operate until they reach the end of their safe operational lifespan.

The country will now gradually shift its energy reliance away from nuclear to other sources, such as solar, wind and hydro power.

The new initiative will see 480 million francs raised on an annual basis from electricity users for investment in renewable energy.

The Swiss government first proposed the idea of phasing out nuclear power after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant was destroyed in 2011.

Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said that “the results shows the population wants a new energy policy and does not want any new nuclear plants”.

Regula Rytz, president of Switzerland’s Green Party, was quoted by the BBC as calling the vote a “moment of historic change.”

“The Swiss population has said ‘no’ to the construction of new nuclear power plants and yes to the development of renewable energy,” she said.

“The conditions have also been set whereby the economy and households will need to take responsibility for the future.

“It’s absolutely magnificent.”

Switzerland has an ambitious target of reducing the average annual energy consumption per person by 43% by 2035 compared with levels in 2000.