Zurich, Switzerland — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 23 May 2011 – The Swiss Energy minister Doris Leuthard is set to propose that the country gradually exits nuclear power, two Swiss Sunday newspapers have reported, citing sources close to the government.
The multi-party Swiss government is expected to make an announcement on nuclear policy on Wednesday, and may recommend an exit.
The NZZ am Sonntag and the SonntagsZeitung both reported that Leuthard favoured an approach similar to that of economy minister Johann Schneider-Ammann.
“She wants to set a clear signal for the exit,” the NZZ am Sonntag quoted a source as saying.
The damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan in March has revived debate about energy policy in Switzerland, where the approvals process for three new nuclear power stations was suspended in March pending a review of safety standards.
The two papers reported that Leuthard backed continued use of current nuclear plants until the end of their lifespans, not building any new ones, and expanding alternative energy sources such as hydro power.
Switzerland’s five nuclear reactors generate about 40% of the country’s electricity. Decisions on sites for new plants were due to be made in mid-2012.
The NZZ quoted Fulvio Pelli, head of the pro-business Free Democrats, as saying his party would decide its position on nuclear power on 30May, and would likely not insist on replacing the two oldest plants, Beznau and Muehleberg.