Switzerland: referendum approves 2050 energy strategy
Swiss citizens have approved a referendum with a 58.2 percent consensus that puts into effect a 2016 federal law implementing the new 2050 energy strategy. This is the first set of measures to reduce energy consumption, by improving energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy sources. Moreover, the package also includes a ban for the construction of new nuclear plants. The aim is to reduce energy consumption by 43 percent by 2015 and 54 percent by 2050, in comparison to the year 2000. The major points of the measure refer to reducing energy consumption. The bill includes incentives to reduce consumption in buildings, electric equipment and motor vehicles by increasing efficiency and expanding the use of renewables. Thus, it depends increasingly less on imported hydrocarbons to mitigate emissions that affect the climate.
The current system pays back producers of power generated by solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy, and paves way for small hydroelectric plants that feed power to the grid. Remuneration rates will be periodically reduced to align renewable energy sources to market prices, while new small hydroelectric plants will no longer be incentivised. New larger hydroelectric plants will benefit from investment grants. Grants have also been designed to fund the new photovoltaic and biomass plants. Already existing hydroelectric plants will be supported due to the low prices on European markets, as they cannot cover production costs any longer. The funding, however, will be limited to five years.
Lastly, to facilitate construction procedures, plants using renewables have currently been acknowledged as sites of national interest, just like protected natural sites and landscapes. The final version of the bill that has been approved bans the construction of new nuclear plants. Already existing ones will remain operational until they are considered to be safe. Once turned off, they will not be replaced. The bill guarantees no stoppages to technological development in nuclear research.