On 21 May 2017 the Swiss electorate accepted the revised Federal Energy Act. The aims behind the revision are to reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy. In addition, the revised version prohibits the construction of new nuclear power plants. In this way, Switzerland will be able to reduce its dependency on imported fossil fuels and foster the use of domestic renewable energy. This will create jobs and give rise to investments in Switzerland.
What is the Energy Strategy 2050?
Following the reactor disaster of Fukushima in 2011, the Federal Council and Parliament decided on Switzerland's progressive withdrawal from nuclear energy production. This decision, together with further far-reaching changes in the international energy environment, requires an upgrading of the Swiss energy system. For this purpose the Federal Council has developed the Energy Strategy 2050. This continues and intensifies the strategic thrust of the Energy Strategy 2007 with new objectives. What is basically new is that the existing five nuclear power stations are to be shut down at the end of their technically safe operating life and not replaced.
The efficient use of energy makes sound sense, saves money and reduces the need for energy imports. The Federal Energy Act contains various incentives for reducing the consumption of energy in buildings, in the transport sector and by electrical appliances, as well as for increasing energy efficiency.
The revised Federal Energy Act aims to promote the use of domestic renewable energy. This includes conventional hydropower production as well as «new» renewable sources such as the sun, wood, biomass, wind and geothermal energy. The use of renewable energy is highly beneficial: the more we use renewable energy, the less dependent Switzerland will be on imported fossil fuels.
Withdrawal from the use of nuclear energy
The existing nuclear power plants may only be used for as long as they can be safely operated. The Federal Energy Act prohibits the construction of new nuclear power plants, however, which means that Switzerland will withdraw from the use of nuclear energy on a step-by-step basis.
Measures with respect to electricity grids
The development of the electricity power grid plays a decisive role in the upgrading of the system of electricity power supply. The grid has to be adapted to meet new requirements. The upgrading and renewal of the distribution networks is progressing but slowly. The fault often lies with the protracted legal processes involved. Under the Energy Strategy 2050, these procedures will be accelerated.