Swiss utility BKW is to close its 390-MW Muehleberg nuclear power plant three years earlier than planned, due to a combination of economic, regulatory and political uncertainty.

Muheleberg was expected to close in 2022, after fifty years of operation. It will now shut in 2019.

BKW said that the plant’s long-term operation would have entailed high costs that would have been ‘too uncertain given the prevailing economic, regulatory and political conditions."

Instead it has decided to boost investment in expansion of hydro and wind power in Switzerland and abroad.

BKW said it still plans to invest some CHF 200 million (EUR160 million) to implement various upgrade projects over Muheleberg’s remaining six years of operation. Around 8% of this has been earmarked for "extraordinary upgrade measures," which include improvements to the cooling water supply and cooling system for the spent fuel pools.

BKW maintains that it will still be able to honour its basic provision obligations for customers and to supply its sales partners with Swiss BKW electricity even after Muheleberg has been decommissioned.

In 2012, five nuclear power plants accounted for around 36% of Switzerland’s electricity generation, while hydro accounted for most of the remainder.