Switzerland’s Muehleberg NPP closed down

24 December 2019

Switzerland’s Muehleberg NPP was closed down on 20 December 47 years, marking the start of its nuclear phase out programme.

The single unit 373 MWe boiling water reactor (BWR) began operation in 1972. It is the first of Switzerland’s five nuclear reactors to be shuttered following the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, after which the government said it would build no new nuclear reactors and decommission those in operation at their end of their lifespan.

The Swiss decision was confirmed in a 2017 referendum which also supported government plans to push forward sustainable energy with subsidies to develop solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

No dates have been set for the shutdown of the other nuclear power stations, although the Beznau plant near the German border, which dates back to 1969, is expected to be next. Muehleberg’s operator, BKW, which is majority-owned by the canton (state) of Bern, decided in October 2013 to close the plant in 2019 rather than 2022 as previously planned, arguing that plans to invest in its long-term future were no longer viable because of "uncertainty surrounding political and regulatory trends".

A 15-year decommissioning process will begin on 6 January, costing CHF3 billion ($3.06 billion). Some 80% of the costs are already covered. The remaining 20% will be incurred by 2126 and will be covered by further fund contributions and plant yields. No decision has been taken on the redevelopment of the site. 

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