Nuclear Power taking a dive in Europe

Last week, the seven-member Federal Council of Switzerland called for the decommissioning of the country’s five nuclear power reactors and development of new energy sources to replace them.

The recommendation will be debated in the Swiss parliament, which is expected to make a final decision next month. If approved, the five reactors (at four facilities) would go offline between 2019 and 2034 as they reach the end of their average 50 year.

The Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard and other Swiss energy officials hope to turn to entirely non-nuclear sources of power like hydropower, wind energy, biomass and photovoltaics combined with energy efficiency to replace the two-fifths of the nation’s energy needs that the nuclear reactors now supply.

The announcement comes days after an estimated 20,000 people took part in the biggest anti-nuclear protest in Switzerland in 25 years by people concerned about the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

The German government has also signaled its determination to ditch nuclear power and replace it with renewable energies.

While nuclear power proponents will argue that nuclear power is safe, a number of nations are coming to grips with the fact their their citizens are not willing to live with the consequences of something going wrong.  While those incidents may be few and far between, the aftermath can be devastating for the surrounding environment, the health and safety of the people living near the facilities and the economy of a country that has to deal with the cleanup should a disaster of the magnatude of Japan’s Fukashima Dai-ichi happen.