Switzerland plans green tax reform and nuclear shutdown

The Swiss Federal Government has decided to carry out an "ecological tax reform", to reduce taxes on employment and encourage renewable energy, and to set a deadline for the closure of its existing nuclear power plants.

The tax reform will penalise non-renewable energy sources. The revenue from this is to be used to reduce taxes on employment. For a limited period, though, it will be allocated to promote the use of renewable energy and more energy efficient technologies, says the Federal Department for Environment, Transport and Communication (DETEC).

The Federal Government wishes to promote the hydropower. It is currently looking into ways of doing this, such as exempting it from energy taxes, and subsidising the upkeep and renovation of existing hydropower stations.

Switzerland’s electricity is provided 40% by hydropower and 60% by nuclear power, the DETEC told edie. Discussions will take place between the nuclear industry, ecologist groups and affected local authorities, in order to agree a strategy for the disposal of nuclear wastes and a deadline for the closure of existing power stations.

It is also proposed to amend the Nuclear Law, so that in the unlikely event that any new nuclear power stations were proposed, they would be the subject of a referendum.

Switzerland’s nuclear power plants were designed for a 40-year life-span, and are not expected to be closed before this unless there are safety problems, a DETEC spokesman told edie. At the same time, he oldest plant, in Muhleberg, has just been granted a licence to operate until 2012, and the most recent plant at Leibstadt, (fourteen years old) has been authorised to increase its output.

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