According to the poll, 49% of respondents believe that the population should have the opportunity to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether a new nuclear power plant should be built.
The poll indicates that 44% of respondents believe Switzerland must continue to use nuclear energy to produce electricity, in addition to renewable energies, while 43% do not want to continue using nuclear.
Hans-Ulrich Bigler, president of the Swiss Nuclear Forum, said the results of the poll show “a process of change in opinion” and refute claims that the continued use of nuclear energy is not accepted by the Swiss population.
“This high acceptance is understandable in view of the uncertainties surrounding the security of our supply and the ambitious climate goals that our country has set itself, and it should not be ignored,” he said.
“We need an energy policy that is open to all technologies – and that takes into account, of course, nuclear energy.”
Switzerland has four nuclear reactor units in commercial operation at three sites – Beznau-1 and -2, Gösgen, and Leibstadt – which provided about 33% of the country’s electricity in 2020.
In July 2021, Swiss media reported that talks were being held between the federal administration and the country’s nuclear power operators on the possibility of operating nuclear plants for 60 years instead of a the presently assumed 50 years.
In May 2017 Switzerland voted to start phasing out the country’s nuclear plants, which provide around one-third of its electricity, as part of a 2014 energy policy which will also cut consumption and increase wind and solar power generation.
The policy includes plans to decommission Switzerland’s reactors as they reach the end of their operational lifespans.
The Swiss government has argued that increased safety standards mean it is no longer cost-effective to build or maintain nuclear power plants.
Opponents to the nuclear phaseout have warned, however, that the government’s plans to push renewables and energy savings are costly, pose risks to energy security and will not be environmentally friendly.
In 2018 an International Energy Agency report said Switzerland’s nuclear phaseout will create an energy gap of at least 20 TWh a year that will need to be replaced with other generation technologies, possibly including new fossil fuel capacity.
* The poll was taken from 16 to 28 February 2022. More than 96% of the interviews were conducted before the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.