Switzerland Says No to Nukes, Yes to Renewables Following Historic Citizen Vote
The plan provides billions in subsidies for renewable energy, bans the construction of new nuclear plants and decommissions Switzerland's five aging reactors. There is no clear date when the plants will close.
"The results shows the population wants a new energy policy and does not want any new nuclear plants," Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said, noting the law would also cut fossil fuel use and reduce reliance on foreign supplies.
"The law leads our country into a modern energy future," she said, and added that some parts of the law would take effect in early 2018.
Under the law, billions in subsidies will be raised annually from electricity users to fund investment in renewable energy sources. The legislation calls for solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources to rise at least 11,400 gigawatt hours by 2035 from 2,831 gigawatt hours now.
The plan also aims to cut the average energy consumption per person per year by 16 percent by 2020 and by 43 percent by 2035 compared to 2000 levels.
Switzerland is following in the footsteps of other European countries that are reducing its reliance on nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster back in 2011. Germany is also closing its nuclear plants by 2022.
Opponents worry that the shift away from nuclear energy will be too costly. While Leuthard said financing renewables will cost an average family 40 Swiss francs ($41) a year, other critics warn that the cost might be much higher, at 3,200 Swiss francs ($3,290) in extra annual costs.
"The Swiss population has said 'no' to the construction of new nuclear power plants and yes to the development of renewable energy," Rytz added. "The conditions have also been set whereby the economy and households will need to take responsibility for the future. It's absolutely magnificent."
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
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By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.