Switzerland needs two new nuclear power stations

Atel CEO Giovanni Leonardi outlined Atel’s position on Switzerland’s future electricity supply in an interview published in the SonntagsZeitung on 10 December 2006.

Statement on Switzerland’s future electricity supply

The most important facts:

  • Atel expects the shortfall in Switzerland’s electricity supply to hit us sooner and harder than anticipated.
  • The current framework prevents investments in large-scale power stations.
  • The following conditions must change:
    • The Federal Government must quickly present viable, long-term solutions to the issue of CO2 tax, like those in our neighbouring countries.
    • The licensing process for new nuclear power stations must be streamlined by the Federal authorities. A procedure taking up to 25 years is absurd.
  • Atel is prepared to invest under such a modified framework.
  • Atel is seriously investigating new nuclear power projects.
  • A new nuclear power station cannot be built without a referendum. That is obvious to Atel.

Atel CEO Giovanni Leonardi outlined Atel’s position on Switzerland’s future electricity supply in an interview published in the SonntagsZeitung on 10 December 2006. Giovanni Leonardi: “The existing power stations can only just meet demand in peak hours and soon will not be able to at all.” To cover the impending shortfall in electricity supply ecologically and economically over the long term, Switzerland needs at least two new nuclear power stations: one to replace the three ageing nuclear facilities and one to replace the expiring import contracts. When asked about sites, Giovanni Leonardi ventured: “Most likely at one of the current sites”. He believes that the local population supports nuclear power.

However, the framework must change before any investment is made. To build gas-fired combined cycle power stations, the CO2 tax would have to be abandoned for an extended period of time. Giovanni Leonardi: “It must be taken off the table. Like in our neighbouring countries”. The licensing process for new nuclear power stations needs to be streamlined. The idea entertained by the Federal Office concerned, that the process should take 25 years from filing of the application to commencement of construction, is absurd.

Giovanni Leonardi is convinced that neither viable energy saving measures nor bold investments in new renewable sources of energy could resolve the problem. “Otherwise I would have to cover the whole of Switzerland with solar panels. And even then, we would only have enough electricity when the sun shines.”

This statement ties in with Atel’s present investments in renewable sources of energy. At the end of November 2006, Atel announced its latest move to invest also in wind power and small hydro power. More specifically, it is investing in two large wind farms (in Sicily) and several small hydroelectric power stations (in Piemont) in Italy. In Switzerland, Atel has established Atel EcoPower Ltd., a new company designed to reinforce its commitment to small hydroelectric power stations and funded with 50 million francs in venture capital. When presenting these projects, Giovanni Leonardi already stressed that these investments in ecologically and economically viable alternative energies would by no means resolve the electricity problem in Switzerland and Europe. Wind power, for instance, currently provides 0.03 per cent of the electricity generated in Switzerland.

More information: Interview with Giovanni Leonardi (SonntagsZeitung, 10.12.06)