Reflecting on your time in office up until now: What has been the most far-reaching change in Switzerland’s “energy landscape” during this time?
The disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power station in March 2011 had a huge impact on energy policy. After the catastrophe it was obvious to me that no more power plants could be built in Switzerland. After any serious accident, security standards are raised to reduce the residual risk. The same is true for nuclear power. This leads to an increase in the price of nuclear energy, while at the same time the prices of renewable energy sources are becoming competitive. The Federal Council and the Parliament have decided to phase out nuclear energy use gradually. Such a course is indeed technically feasible and economically sustainable, yet restructuring the energy supply system is still a demanding process.
So there is to be a gradual withdrawal from nuclear energy: What do the Swiss want to do better than their German neighbours?
We don’t have set deadlines in Switzerland. Instead, we are orientating ourselves according to the safety level of the actual plants. The five existing nuclear power plants will remain in the electrical grid as long as they can be operated safely. This will give us the time necessary for revamping the energy supply system.
What is your hottest tip for personal energy saving?
As with many things, start small. For example, shut off electrical appliances completely when they are not in use, rather than leaving them in stand-by mode. When it comes to new products, such as a car or washing machine, it is worth taking a close look at the energy information when purchasing. This will tell you about its energy efficiency. It is also worth having buildings assessed and then investing in them. This will lower energy costs.
Author: Doris Leuthard is the Former President of Switzerland (2010) and current Head of the Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications.
Read more at Doris Leuthard: Is Switzerland sustainable?
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