Consortium formed to replace Swiss nuclear

13 December 2007

Three Swiss energy companies have announced a joint venture called Resun with the purpose of replacing the Beznau and Muhleberg nuclear power plants in 2020.

Resun was formed by Nordostschweizerische Kraftwerk (NOK, owned by Axpo Group), Centralschweizerische Kraftwerk (CFC) and BKM FMB Energie. Those companies own 57.75%, 11% and 31.25% respectively of the new company, to be based in Aarau, but reserve the right to allow new members to join.

In a statement, the companies said that Resun would submit paperwork at the end of 2008 towards permits to build nuclear power units of up to 1600 MWe at the Muhleberg and Beznau sites. The units would be identical. Currently Muhleberg hosts a 306 MWe boiling water reactor, while Beznau plant hosts two 350 MWe pressurized water reactors. As a combined heat and power plant Beznau also provides 80 MW in heat to industry and homes over a 130 km network that reaches 11 towns. Under current plans, power generation at those sites would end in around 2020.

At the same time around 2000 MWe of imported nuclear energy from France would begin to be phased out and a 355 MWe hydro plant at Mill Mountain would close. The loss of so much low-carbon power generation at one time would be a serious environmental issue for Switzerland and in
February energy minister Moritz Leuenberger said the replacement of existing nuclear plants or the building of new ones would be necessary.

The Resun companies' statement noted that Switzerland's two other nuclear plants, Leibstadt and Gosgen have only slightly longer lives. An invitation to join Resun has been sent to Atel, an energy services and technology company which has a 40% stake in Gosgen and 27% in Leibstadt.

Axpo and BKW said that they are convinced the Swiss population would support nuclear power alongside renewables and energy conservation in upcoming referendums on energy policy.

Further information

WNA's Nuclear Power in Switzerland information paper

WNN: Swiss government: Nuclear to stay