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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Switzerland’ binding referendum – voted to ban nuclear plants, shift to renewable energy

Switzerland votes to ban nuclear plants, shift to renewable energy, in referendum ABC News 22 May 17  Swiss voters have backed the Government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum.

Key points:

  • Provisional data shows nearly 60 per cent backed Government plan
  • Solar and wind account for less than 5 per cent of Switzerland’s energy output
  • Voters get final say on major policy issues in Switzerland

Provisional final figures showed support at 58.2 per cent under the Swiss system of direct democracy, which gives voters final say on major policy issues.

The Swiss initiative mirrors efforts elsewhere in Europe to reduce dependence on nuclear power, partly sparked by Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Germany aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022, while Austria banned it decades ago.

“The results shows the population wants a new energy policy and does not want any new nuclear plants,” Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said, adding the law would boost domestic renewable energy, cut fossil fuel use and reduce reliance on foreign supplies……. http://www.abc.net.au/n

May 22, 2017 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland to vote on promoting renewables and banning nuclear power

Reuters 17th May 2017, Swiss voters will on Sunday determine the fate of a law proposing billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, a ban on new nuclear plants and a partial utilities bailout. Polling so far suggests the law will be approved in the binding referendum, but support has slipped.

A survey this month by research institute gfs.bern for state broadcaster SRG showed 56 percent of voters backed the law, down from 61 percent. The Swiss initiative mirrors efforts elsewhere in Europe to reduce dependence on nuclear power, partly sparked by Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011. Neighbouring Germany aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Nearby Austria banned it decades ago.

Debate on Switzerland’s “Energy Strategy 2050” has focused on what customers and taxpayers will pay for the measures
and whether a four-fold rise in solar and wind power by 2035, as envisaged in the law, can deliver reliable supplies.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/swiss-energy-idUKL8N1IJ3R6?rpc=401&

May 19, 2017 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Germany, and Swiss groups question why Swiss nuclear reactor is again shut down

Germany demands answers after Swiss nuclear reactor is restarted… and then shut down again, The Local, 20 Feb 17, The German environment minister has demanded answers from the Swiss authorities after the Leibstadt nuclear reactor in the canton of Aargau near the German border was switched off on Friday night, just seven hours after being restarted following a six months shutdown.

Shortly after the reactor was brought on line at around 5.30pm on Friday, operator KKL noted a malfunction of the exhaust system responsible for filtering gases from the condenser in a non-nuclear area of the reactor, KKL said in a statement……
Greenpeace has also criticized the move, while 16,000 people have signed a petition against the reactor led by a Swiss Green Party politician, reported Swiss news agencies.
Some 12 Swiss and German groups have written to the Swiss government to demand the shutdown of the reactor. ……https://www.thelocal.de/20170220/questions-asked-after-swiss-nuclear-reactor-is-restarted-and-then-shut-down-again

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Germany, politics international, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland to vote on the government’s energy straegy

Swiss to vote on government’s anti-nuclear energy strategy, The Local, 2 Feb 17The Swiss people will go to the polls on May 21st to decide whether the government’s ‘energy strategy 2050’ should go ahead.

The policy, which will instigate a gradual withdrawal from nuclear power in favour of renewable resources, is opposed by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) which in October launched a campaign to gather enough signatures to force a referendum on the matter.
On Tuesday the government confirmed that the SVP had gathered 68,390 valid signatures, well over the necessary threshold of 50,000, reported news agencies.
Consequently, in May the Swiss people will get the chance to have their say on the government’s energy plans.
The Energy Strategy 2050 was devised following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and is spearheaded by energy minister and current Swiss President Doris Leuthard.
Under the plans no new nuclear power plants will be built in Switzerland and the five that do exist – including the world’s oldest operating reactor, Beznau I – will be decommissioned at the end of their technically safe operating life.
The strategy will also see a new focus on exploiting hydropower and other renewable resources such as wind and solar power, measures which require changes to the existing energy law…….http://www.thelocal.ch/20170201/swiss-to-vote-on-governments-anti-nuclear-energy-strategy

February 3, 2017 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Sweden’s nuclear sites to get armed guards

All those terror attacks’: Sweden’s nuclear sites to get armed guards Rt.com  5 Jan, 2017 Sweden has decided to tighten up security around nuclear plants by requiring guards to be armed. The measures will be introduced following recent terrorists attacks across the globe.

“Just look at all the terror attacks, for example in Istanbul recently. We have to keep up and protect our operations as best we can,” Anders Österberg, spokesperson for OKG AB, a Swedish corporation which owns and operates the country’s Oskarshamn Nuclear Power Plant, said, according to Sveriges Radio on Thursday.

Starting from February 4, guards at three Swedish nuclear plants – in Ringhals, Oskarshamn, and Forsmark – will be equipped with guns, Österberg later told TT news agency. Under new regulations, security officers are required to use guard dogs for patrolling nuclear power sites.

Until now, the guards were only allowed to carry batons……..https://www.rt.com/news/372732-sweden-security-nuclear-sites/

January 6, 2017 Posted by | safety, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland concerned over possible abnormalities in AREVA-supplied nuclear reactor components

safety-symbol-Smflag-SwitzerlandTwo Swiss nuclear plants to be checked for irregularities, SwissInfo, 13 Dec 16The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (IFSN) has confirmed that steam generators at the Beznau and Gösgen nuclear plants must be checked for possible anomalies.

In a statement on Tuesday, IFSN said it had asked the operators of the Beznau and Gösgen nuclear plants to check the quality of steel components used in the steam generators.

Plant operators must scrutinize documents relating to the components and report to IFSN by April. They should then carry out any physical checks on materials.

The news follows reports that the French nuclear safety authority (ASN) discovered in June that certain steam generator channel heads made by two different manufacturers – Areva’s Creusot plant and Japan Casting & Forging Corp (JCFC) – could contain a zone comprising a high carbon concentration. That could weaken the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks.

“This pushed us to check the steam generators at the Beznau and Gösgen plants,” said IFSN interim director, Georg Schwarz……http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/nuclear-power_two-swiss-nuclear-plants-to-be-checked-for-irregularities/42759794

December 14, 2016 Posted by | safety, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Swiss reject hasty exit from nuclear power, but not by a huge vote

Swiss reject plan to speed up exit from nuclear energy  Herald Courier, Associated Press |BERLIN (AP) , 27 Nov 16, — Swiss voters rejected a plan to accelerate the country’s exit from nuclear energy in a referendum Sunday, turning down an initiative that would have forced their government to shut the last plant in 2029.

The plan promoted by the Green party would have meant closing three of Switzerland’s five nuclear plants next year. Polls ahead of the referendum had shown a tight race, but voters shot down the initiative by 54.2 percent to 45.8 percent.

Under Switzerland’s direct democracy system, proposals need support from both a majority of the country’s cantons (states) and of the national vote to pass. Only six of Switzerland’s 26 states backed the nuclear shutdown plan.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, the Swiss government adopted a gradualist approach toward transitioning the country to renewable energy by 2050.

It said nuclear plants should continue to operate as long as they are deemed safe, but didn’t set a precise timetable. The government said it needs time to switch to other sources such as wind, solar and biomass energy.

If successful, the initiative would have limited the lifespan of nuclear plants to 45 years and meant the closure next year of the Beznau 1, Beznau 2 and Muehleberg reactors. The newest of the plants, in Leibstadt near the German border, started operating in 1984 and would have had to close in 2029.

The nuclear plants currently generate around a third of Switzerland’s electricity.

“We would have liked to win, that’s clear, but 45 percent for ‘yes’ is a good result,” Regula Rytz, the Greens’ chairwoman, told SRF television. Her party isn’t part of Switzerland’s broad coalition government.

“The problems haven’t been resolved with this referendum Sunday,” Rytz said. “We will keep at it on safety, on financial security … and on expanding renewable energies.”….

The referendum result “is a disappointment for all who had hoped for clarity on when the last nuclear power station in Switzerland will go offline,” Rita Schwarzeluehr-Sutter, a deputy German environment minister, said.

Nuclear power is “an outdated model in Switzerland, too,” she said, adding that the country has some of the world’s oldest reactors and “their days are numbered anyway.” http://www.heraldcourier.com/news/swiss-cast-ballots-on-referendum-on-nuclear-energy/article_92960829-a9d6-57a4-9cce-031054b7ab3a.html

November 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland’s nuclear reactors will keep going – for now

Swiss nuclear plants to remain on grid, swissinfo.ch


By Urs Geiser , 27 Nov 16 

Swiss voters have thrown out a proposal to close the country’s five nuclear power plants after 45 years in operation. The Green Party initiative was rejected by 54.2% of the vote, according to final results.

Only six of the country’s 26 cantons, mainly in French-speaking Switzerland, came out in favour of the phase out. Despite the defeat, Regula Rytz, president of the Green Party, welcomed Sunday’s result.

“The high number of yes votes confirmed that citizens wanted to opt out of nuclear power in the long run,” she said.

The leftwing Social Democrats said the nuclear era was coming to an end, while the environmental organisation Greenpeace described the result as a “slap on the wrist” of the nuclear power industry.

Confidence 

Energy Minister Doris Leuthard  said the result was a vote of confidence in the government and its energy strategy. “Voters do not want a hasty shut down of nuclear power plants. A policy change is not feasible from one day to the next,” she told a news conference…….

Supporters of the initiative argued the safety of old reactors, operating since the early 1970s, could no longer be guaranteed. Instead, they called for more energy efficiency and renewable energy resources.

“An orderly phase out creates more safety and protects our country,” according to the campaign slogan of the initiative committee.

If it had been approved, three plants would have had to close as early as next year and Switzerland would have phased out nuclear energy production by 2029. Most of the Swiss nuclear reactors have unlimited operating licences, which are subject to approval by the regulator.

The proposal was backed by an alliance of leftwing parties, trade unions and environmental organisations……..

Energy Strategy

Following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the Swiss government in 2011 decided in principle to opt out of nuclear power production by 2034. In its energy policy, the government recommended decommissioning all nuclear reactors and to promote hydroelectric power, renewable energy and combined gas plants.

Last September, parliament approved an energy strategy, ending more than two years of debate. The programme foresees boosting renewable energy resources and outlaws the construction of nuclear power plants. However, it sets no deadline for the existing reactors to be shut down.

Unhappy with the Energy Strategy 2050, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party is challenging the law to a referendum, criticising planned government subsidies for renewable energy resources……

Nuclear votes

The Nov 27 was vote was the seventh nationwide ballot on nuclear power in Switzerland since 1979.

Ballots also took place at cantonal and local levels, notably on the storage of nuclear waste, public stock ownership in nuclear companies or a ban of nuclear power supplies for public utilities.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Swiss can’t give away nuclear reactors, let alone sell them

radiation-sign-sadflag-SwitzerlandSwiss try to give away nuclear plants, but find no takers, REneweconomy, By  on 18 November 2016 Energy Transition  The operator of Switzerland’s nuclear reactors, Alpiq, reportedly offered reactors to France’s EDF at no cost or “a symbolic franc.” The French, who have their hands full with their own struggling fleet at home, refused the offer. A potential power shortfall still looms in the background. Craig Morris explains.

On the weekend, Swiss media reported (in German and in French) that Swiss reactor operator Alpiq could find no buyer for its two nuclear plants and is therefore hoping to give them to the Swiss state. The firm’s CEO is quoted saying that France’s EDF was not interested even at no cost because it “has its own problems pertaining to nuclear power at present.”

It is possible that the announcement is a bargaining chip just in case the Swiss decide in their referendum later this month to phase out nuclear. Alpiq’s Gösgen reactor would then have to close in 2024; Leibstadt, in 2029. The company may thus be looking for ways to ask for money from the Swiss state in return for a closure. At present, the firm is apparently losing 2 billion francs annually but can only pass on half of those losses to consumers.

Oddly, neighboring France faces a power shortage that should lead to greater demand in Switzerland; the aforementioned losses have been part of a longer trend stemming back to the solar boom of Germany (see my report from 2012), which began bringing down prices on spot power markets despite Chancellor Merkel’s nuclear phaseout of 2011. Solar and wind have simply grown faster than anyone expected.

As I recently explained, France has more than a third of its reactors closed at present. At the beginning of November, it was announced (in French) that five of the 20 reactors (out of 58) currently undergoing inspections would not come back online this month as expected.

Concerns of a power shortage also extend to the UK, where system operator National Grid warned of a potential shortfall on Monday, November 07. Power prices have reached as high as 40 pence on the spot market, whereas 4 pence would be more usual (play around with this table). The British were importing power full blast on line from the Netherlands and France, thereby contributing to the drain on French supply.

As a result, French prices were also high that Monday, reaching nearly 40 cents. But that’s nothing: a power trader says it is “almost certain” that France will reach its price cap of three euros per kilowatt-hour on the exchange this winter. The head of EDF, which operates all of France’s reactors, has now said that the danger of a blackout this winter is real (in French). At that point, France might import from the UK no matter what the cost, and the British would fire up their strategic reserve……..

The problem is thus that France and the UK have failed to build enough renewables, especially biogas plants running on waste (which are dispatchable), while they wasted time hoping to build nuclear plants that never emerged. As for the Swiss, well, they have suffered from the same indecision but may set it aside finally in their referendum on November 27. http://reneweconomy.com.au/swiss-try-give-away-nuclear-plants-find-no-takers-47105/

November 19, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Majority of Swiss back proposal to shut down nuclear power by 2029

Poll finds support for nuclear phaseout, SwissInfo Ch By Urs Geiser , 21 Oct 16  

A proposal to decommission Switzerland’s nuclear power plants by 2029 has the backing of a majority of citizens, according to a survey conducted seven weeks ahead of a nationwide vote. Despite this, pollsters believe the initiative is likely to be defeated on November 27.

Supporters of the Green Party proposal had a 21% lead over opponents seven weeks before polling day, while 7% of respondents were undecided, results published on Friday showed.

“The political left, women and citizens in the French-speaking part of the country are in favour,” said Claude Longchamp of the leading GfS Bern research and polling institute.

Supporters face a strong alliance of opponents, including centre-right parties, parliament, the government and the business community.

Longchamp said the grassroots of the centrist Christian Democrats are likely to play a key role……..http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/november-27-vote_poll-finds-support-for-nuclear-phase-out/42529278

October 22, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Nuclear power facing a close-down deadline in Switzerland

Is time up for nuclear power in Switzerland?, Swisssinfo ch, By Luigi Jorio , 13 Oct 16 

Banning construction of nuclear power plants and limiting to 45 years the use of existing ones: that’s what a people’s initiative from the Green Party, to be voted on in November, proposes. It has not been endorsed by the cabinet or by parliament.On March 11, 2011, dramatic footage from Japan showed the destruction caused by an earthquake and tsunami. The coastal nuclear power plant at Fukushima sustained severe damage. There was worldwide concern, and a few weeks later the Swiss government announced its historic decision that “existing nuclear power plants [in Switzerland] should be decommissioned at the end of their safe operational lifespan and not be replaced by new nuclear power plants”.

According to the government, the lifespan of nuclear power plants, based on technical safety criteria, is “about 50 years”. This was too long for the Greens, who want to walk away from nuclear power without any shilly-shallying. In May 2011 they launched a people’s initiative “For a planned phase-out of nuclear energy”, which they handed in with well over 100,000 signatures in November 2012. As a result, the people will now have to decide on the future of Switzerland’s nuclear power plants in a nationwide vote.

‘Permanent state of emergency’

The initiative calls for Swiss power plants – which supply on average 35% of the country’s electricity – to be shut down after no more than 45 years of operation. This would mean that the stations Beznau I and II (in canton Aargau) and Mühleberg (Bern) should shut down in 2017, Gösgen (Solothurn) in 2024 and Leibstadt (Aargau) in 2029.

“Switzerland has the oldest nuclear power plants in the world. Beznau I has been going for 47 years,” points out Regula Rytz, president of the Swiss Greens and co-chair of the Alliance for a planned phase-out of nuclear power. Using data from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the committee to support the initiative notes that the 151 nuclear power plants that had been closed around the world as of late 2015 had reached an average age of less than 26 years.

“Nuclear energy puts us in a state of permanent emergency. This is a high-risk technology, and its negative consequences are going to be around for thousands of years,” warns Rytz, referring to accidents at Windscale (Britain, 1957), Three Mile Island (US, 1979), Chernobyl (Ukraine, 1986) and Fukushima.

What will replace nuclear power? While supporting the basic principle of the initiative, the Swiss government opposes the constitutional amendment put forward by the Greens. Fixing a time limit, it says, means having to implement “too hurried a shut-down of Swiss nuclear plants, thus requiring major imports of electricity from abroad”. The government is instead holding to the “orderly and step-by-step” phase-out detailed in its Energy Strategy 2050, which was recently endorsed by parliament.

Energy Minister Doris Leuthard, one of the key players in the energy shift announced five years ago, warns that if the initiative is accepted, the country will not be ready with renewable energies. “We will have to import power from abroad, produced by coal- and gas-fired stations. Is this really what the Greens want?” she asks.

As far as advocates of the initiative are concerned, however, finding a clean alternative to nuclear power is not likely to be a problem. Renewable sources (water, wind and sun) and progress in energy efficiency will pick up the slack from nuclear power, they maintain.

About 40,000 clean energy projects have applied for incentive funding from the government, notes Rytz. “On their own, these could provide electricity equivalent to the output of Mühleberg and Beznau I and II.”

Billions to phase out power plants

One thing bothering the government is the likelihood of steep demands for compensation from the operators of nuclear power plants that would be facing early closure. Former head of the Axpo electricity company Heinz Karrer, quoted in the daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung, has said compensation could amount to billions of francs.

As part of the price-tag for phasing out nuclear power, the business lobby economiesuisse – currently headed, as it happens, by Heinz Karrer – points to the costs of dismantling the stations and managing the waste……..http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/november-27-vote_is-time-up-for-nuclear-power-in-switzerland-/42506884

October 14, 2016 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Switzerland bans new nuclear reactors

flag-Switzerlandtext-NoSwiss ban new nuclear reactors  http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/swiss-ban-new-nuclear-reactors-39247 By  on 11 October 2016 Energy Transition

Another setback for the “nuclear renaissance”: Switzerland voted on Friday to focus more on renewables and efficiency. For the first time ever, new nuclear plants are officially off the table—though admittedly, none were planned. The Swiss just “adopted the Energiewende,” writes the Neue Züricher Zeitung. Is no one paying attention? Craig Morris has the details.

Now here’s a news item you probably haven’t heard, at least judging from what I can gather on the internet: Switzerland’s new Energy Act (EnergiegesetzPDF) of 30 September 2016. You would think that, given its scope and Switzerland’s central role in Europe’s power sector, the following contents would have warranted a mention at, say, Reuters, CNN, Bloomberg, and Co.:

  • The generation of non-hydro renewable power is to grow from 1.7 TWh last year (PDF in German and French) to 4.4 TWh by 2020 and 11.4 TWh by 2035 (nearly tenfold).
  • “Per capita energy consumption” is to shrink by 16 percent from 2000 to 2020 and by 43 percent by 2035. “Per capita” is an important caveat in a small country whose population can easily grow quickly. (Switzerland’s is up around 10 percent over the past decade, like even smaller Norway’s.) Unfortunately, the law does not specify the most important aspect here: final or primaryenergy?
  • Power consumption is to drop by 3 percent by 2020 and 13 percent by 2035.
  • The law also, confusingly, speaks of “expanding” hydropower to 37.4 TWh by 2035 – even though it came in at 39.5 TWh last year. (If any readers know how to dissect this, please drop us a comment below.)
  • It amends the 2003 Nuclear Energy Act (here’s the old one) to ban permits for new nuclear reactors. It also bans the reprocessing and export of spent fuel rods for reprocessing (except for research purposes with the consent of the Bundesrat). And “changes may not be made to existing nuclear plants.”

There’s a lot more in the law, much of which deals with the policy mechanisms (level of feed-in tariffs, etc.). But what’s above is a real breakthrough. So why has it gone unreported in English?

One reason may be that a referendum could change everything, as the Swiss press explains (in German). But the report also suggests there is little support for such a referendum in industry, so the referendum may not even take place; in other words, the Swiss business world is happier with renewables and efficiencythan with old-school energy production, consumption, and waste.

Another referendum will be held on 27 November 2016: the one for a closure of the existing reactors (in German). It does not necessarily stand a good chance of passing; parliamentarians overwhelmingly reject it (it’s an idea of the Swiss Greens). On the other hand, a recent survey of the public revealed support for a total phaseout by 2029 (basically, a limited service life of 45 years per reactor). This idea may have as much as 58 percent public support (in German)—possibly another example of politicians out of touch with the people. The first reactor to be shut down would then go offline in 2019. Leibstadt, the youngest, would be the last to go in 2029.

Opponents of the phaseout referendum will reportedly not try to reject the idea of a nuclear phaseout outright. Instead, they will try to win over the “silent majority” of undecided voters in the middle of the political spectrum by simply arguing that setting a specific date or service life for all reactors makes no sense. This clever tactic is likely to succeed, but a quick comparison with the historic debate in Germany over a nuclear phaseout suggests something less savory for nuclear supporters. Remember that slippery slope? By the time you resort to the tactic of “setting a date for a phaseout makes no sense,” you have reached the bottom of it. There is no way back up the slope for nuclear at that point.

Oddly, the Swiss press outlets all report that the new law is part of the government’s “Energy Strategy 2050” even though “2050” is never even mentioned in the new Act. This law is in fact just a starting point. By the end of this year, we will probably know what direction the country is headed.

One wonders when the international media will catch on. Maybe never—or did you know that Switzerland implemented a nuclear phaseout (by 2034) in the wake of Fukushima back in 2011?

October 12, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Renewable energy heading to replace nuclear power in Switzerland

poster renewables not nuclearflag-SwitzerlandStudy pushes Swiss post-nuclear power potential, Swiss Info Ch. 8 Sep 16    Wind farms and solar installations already produce almost 50% of the energy that Switzerland gets from nuclear power plants, a new study finds.

Renewable energy sources could replace all of the power that Switzerland gets from nuclear plants sooner than people think, according to the study released on Thursday by Energy Future Switzerland.

That’s because of the fast pace of investment in renewable energy, the Swiss association says.

“At this pace of investment all the Swiss nuclear power plants can be replaced by renewable energy within about six years,” said the nonprofit’s director, Aeneas Wanner, in a statement. The association partners with utilities and others to promote energy efficiency and develop renewable energy sources…….

On November 27, Switzerland will hold a nationwide vote on its nuclear power plants. The Swiss popular initiative calls for amending the Constitution to prohibit getting electricity or heat from nuclear power. It also would set times for when the five plants must be shut down…….http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/renewable-energy_study-pushes-swiss-post-nuclear-power-potential/42430574

September 9, 2016 Posted by | renewable, Switzerland | Leave a comment

The economic meltdown of nuclear power should be a wake-up call for investors and governments

Once a reactor has reached the end of its lifetime, the cost for decommissioning and storing nuclear waste for hundreds to thousands of years have to be borne. Utilities have a mandate to make provisions for this, but whether the funds will actually suffice remains to be seen. 

While the level of feed-in tariffs has been reduced for wind and solar in countries like Germany and Switzerland to reflect technology learning curves, the [UK’s] price guarantee for nuclear locks in the opposite trend. 

The positive business case for non-renewable energies seems to come to an end. Thirty years after Chernobyl and five years after Fukushima, the economic meltdown of nuclear power should be a wake-up call for investors and governments

nuclear-costs3Nuclear power’s economic meltdown 30 years after Chernobyl http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/energy-rethink_nuclear-power-s-economic-meltdown-30-years-after-chernobyl/42109822  By Rolf Wüstenhagen  25 Apr 16 Thirty years later, the nuclear industry is facing a meltdown of a different kind: an economic meltdown.

“New nuclear – the economics say no” was the headline of a 2009 analyst report published by Citigroup. The bankers had taken a closer look at the financial viability of the proposed construction of nuclear power plants in the UK and concluded that five risks make it very difficult to invest profitably in nuclear: planning, construction, power price, operational and decommissioning risk. 

They went on to conclude that each of the middle three of these risks alone would be enough to “bring even the largest utility company to its knees financially”. 

Two years after the report was published, Citi’s claim was empirically validated. The meltdown in three reactors of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant in Japan led to widespread contamination. 

The event marked a human and environmental tragedy, but the magnitude of the financial loss – estimates of which range from $250 billion (CHF242 billion) to $500 billion – also forced the operating company, Tepco, into the largest government bail-out in Japanese economic history. 

Sharp rethink  Continue reading

April 28, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Switzerland | Leave a comment

France sued by Geneva over dangerous and polluting nuclear station

justiceflag-Switzerlandflag-franceGeneva sues France over ‘dangerous’ nuclear plant, The Local, 03 Mar 2016 Geneva is taking legal action over a French nuclear reactor for “endangering lives and polluting water”. Some 70 kilometres from Geneva as the crow flies, Bugey, in the Ain department, is one of France’s oldest nuclear power plants, having come into service in 1972.

The site creates about 4.5 percent of France’s electricity using pressurized water reactors that harness water from the nearby Rhône River.

It has been the subject of controversy before, notably in 2013 when Greenpeace activists broke in to the plant to highlight alleged security weaknesses at the facility.

The current Swiss legal action is a joint initiative by Geneva’s city and cantonal authorities, which have teamed up on an issue that has preoccupied the region for some time, reports Swiss daily 24 Heures.

Back in 2012, the canton placed an official objection to French energy company EDF’s authorization to create a nuclear waste depot at the Bugey site, but the complaint was rejected by the French government.  In March 2015 the city council engaged Corinne Lepage, environmental law specialist and a former French minister, to devise a legal strategy calling for the plant to be shut down.

This fresh Swiss campaign against Bugey, led by Lepage, comes as Switzerland decides to shut down one of its own nuclear plants, at Mühleberg.

The reactor in the canton of Bern will be disconnected from the Swiss electricity grid in 2019 and will be finally put out of service by September 2020 at the latest, its owner BKW Energy announced to the press on Wednesday.

Like Bugey, Mühleberg also dates from 1972, making it one of the oldest nuclear plants in the world.

No age limits

However, despite the old age of some of Switzerland’s nuclear installations, their lifespan should not be limited by law, the federal government said on Wednesday.

On Wednesday the Swiss parliament voted against a motion to set an age limit for nuclear plants………

Worse than before Fukushima’

Quashing the proposal angered some on the political left, however, including president of the Greens, Adèle Thorens.

Speaking to Le Matin, she said: “Instead of moving away from nuclear power it’s been decided to prolong the life of nuclear plants instead.”

Worse, she said, was the fact that parliament “had refused the recommendations of our own monitoring organization!”

“We are now in a security situation worse than before Fukushima,” she added. “That’s the incredible paradox of our energy strategy.”  http://www.thelocal.ch/20160303/geneva-sues-france-over-dangerous-nuclear-plant

March 4, 2016 Posted by | France, Legal, Switzerland | Leave a comment