Majority of Swiss support nuclear new build

09 March 2022

While support for the continued use of nuclear energy is evenly split in the Swiss population, the majority of people support the lifting of the country's ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants, a poll conducted by market research company DemoSCOPE on behalf of the Swiss Nuclear Forum shows.

Switzerland's Beznau nuclear power plant (Image: ENSI)

DemoSCOPE interviewed a total of 1219 people in both German-speaking and French-speaking parts of Switzerland as part of an online quick survey using computer-assisted web interviewing. The survey was conducted between 16 and 28 February. The Swiss Nuclear Forum noted that more than 96% of the interviews were conducted before 24 February, when Russia began its military operations in Ukraine.

The survey found that 44% of respondents believed Switzerland should continue to use nuclear energy to generate electricity, in addition to renewable energies. It also found that 43% of respondents said the country should not continue using it, while 13% did not answer.

Of those supporting the continued use of nuclear, 87% said their decision was due to concerns about energy security, while 42% said it would help Switzerland meet its climate goals.

When asked about the existing ban on new construction of nuclear power plants, 45% of those surveyed approved of the fact that the construction of new reactors was legally prohibited in Switzerland. However, 49% believed that the population should have the opportunity to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether or not a new nuclear power plant should be built.

"The survey results are evidence of a rethinking process and refute the claim of the critics that the future use of nuclear energy would not be accepted by the Swiss population," said Swiss Nuclear Forum President Hans-Ulrich Bigler.

"In view of an insecure power supply and the ambitious climate goals in our country, the high level of public approval is understandable and should not be ignored. We need an energy policy which is open to all technologies - and which, of course, takes nuclear energy into account."

Switzerland currently has four nuclear reactors generating about 35% of its electricity. A new Swiss energy policy was sought in response to the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. Two months later, both the Swiss parliament and government decided to exit nuclear power production.

The Energy Strategy 2050 initiative drawn up by the Federal Council calls for a gradual withdrawal from nuclear energy. It also foresees expanded use of renewables and hydro power but anticipates increased reliance on fossil fuels and electricity imports as an interim measure.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News