In 2011, the Federal Council and Parliament decided that Switzerland is to withdraw from the use of nuclear energy on a step-by-step basis. The existing five nuclear power plants are to be decommissioned when they reach the end of their safe service life, and will not be replaced by new ones. So how will Switzerland meet the energy demands of the future? We will be focusing on electricity but you must also keep in mind other energy requirements such as those for transport.

Part 1: How much electricity does Switzerland use and how is it used?

  • Use the document from the federal bureau of statistics and other resources from this website to summarise the current supply and demand for electricity in Switzerland.


Part 2: How has Switzerland’s energy consumption changed and how is this expected to change in the future?

Using the same resources given provided in part 1, describe how Switzerland’s energy consumption has changed since 1990. You should comment on all forms of energy. Can you explain the reasons behind the changing energy consumption.

Part 3: How does Switzerland get its electricity?

  • Using the information below and the information from this website summarise how Switzerland is producing its electricity.

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Switzerland’s railways run on electricity

Part 4: Why not Nuclear?

1) Introducing Nuclear Power

Your first task is to read through the information from below and produce a summary on Nuclear Power. How does it work, what are the advantages and disadvantages. Don’t forget to comment on the issue of nuclear waste.

Beginner’s guide: How nuclear power works

Is nuclear power the answer to the energy crisis? Ian Sample explains how it works – and how we get the awful side-effects of bombs and waste



  • The technology to make nuclear power already exists.
  • There is a plentiful supply of uranium, enough to last hundreds of years.
  • Nuclear energy releases very low amounts of greenhouse gases.
  • It reduces the dependency on oil, coal and gas producing countries
  • Nuclear waste can be safely stored underground
  • The supply of electricity can be altered depending on the demand.
  • There is always the risk of nuclear accidents like the Chernobyl accident in the Ukraine
  • There is a risk that nuclear power stations will become terrorist targets or that nuclear material will fall into the hands of terrorists.
  • Countries can use nuclear technology to make nuclear weapons. North Korea and Iran have both been accused of doing this.
  • Transporting nuclear material and nuclear waste is risky and expensive.
  • Nuclear power stations only have a limited life period and the cost of decommissioning them is expensive.
  • There is a belief that living next to nuclear power stations can increase the risk of cancers (leukemia).
  • People don’t want nuclear power stations built near where they live i.e. NIMBY
  • Mining for uranium is dangerous and can be polluting.
  • Nuclear waste remains radioactive for thousands of years (it has a very long half life)
The advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power from Greenfield Geography.

Pandora’s Promise: pro-nuclear movie blows up yesterday’s myths.

The debate on nuclear power and climate change needs to be about technology, cost, location and speed. Robert Stone’s new film says nothing about any of this

Who to trust on nuclear?

Even without Fukushima skeptics might wonder why Britain ignores the German lead on energy.

Nuclear Waste

Radioactive Wastes – Myths and Realities This review is from the World Nuclear Association.

2) Nuclear Power in Switzerland

Use the information below to produce a summary of Nuclear Power in Switzerland. Where is it produced (find or produce a map) and what the current plan is for Nuclear Power production in Switzerland.

Nuclear future

New questions raised about Switzerland’s energy strategy.

Switzerland has three nuclear power plants that are showing their age. Following the nuclear accident in Japan, experts have been given about a year to come up with a new risk analysis, that will be used as the basis for political decisions on the future of nuclear energy. (SF/

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The Benzau Nuclear Power Plant on an artificial island in the River Aare at Dottingen.

Part 5: Hydro Power

  • Use the links and information below to answer questions 1 and 2

1) What is Hydroelectricity and how does it work?

2) Where is the hydro electricity produced in Switzerland?

How Hydro Works

Large reserves of water

In Switzerland, about 200 water reservoirs provide more than 30 per cent of electricity consumed.

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From water to electricity

Water, an important raw material for electricity production.

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The Grande Dixence Dam in the Vallais is the highest in the world.

  • Now read the articles below and watch the video about hydro power in the Grimsel area. Use this information to answer questions 3 and 4

3) What are the advantages and disadvantages of Hydroelectricity? Use Swiss examples to illustrate your answer.

4) Why might it be difficult for Switzerland to increase the amount of energy it produces from Hydroelectricity?

A fight over hydro-electric expansion in the Grimsel area.

The nine plants of the KWO (Kraftwerke Oberhasli ) hydro-electric power company in the Grimsel area produce enough electricity annually to meet the needs of one million people.

The operators want to boost production by increasing dam capacity and updating equipment, but environmental groups are objecting. (SF/

Has hydroelectric hit its high water mark?

The development of Switzerland’s main renewable resource, hydroelectric power, seems to have reached its limit – not least for environmental reasons

Swiss Alps proposed as powerhouse of Europe

Many European countries are turning away from atomic power to focus on renewable energies. Switzerland’s water reservoirs could make up for future gaps in supply.

Part 5: What about other renewables, Wind, Solar, Biomass and Geothermal Power?

1) What are they and how do they work? 2) Summarise their use in Switzerland?

3) What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of these renewable energy sources? 4) What problems will need to be overcome if Switzerland is to generate more electricity from these renewables? Use real examples to explain your answer.


The way the wind blows

A dispute has broken out over a renewable energy project.

In the Jura hills near the French border, a few wind turbines produce electricity. Wind energy promoters and politicians want more erected but face stiff opposition from environmentalists: local residents will have the last word. (TSR/

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A photo montage of how the proposed wind turbines in Sainte-Croix (VD) would look if they are built. What do you think, eye-sore or majestic?


Blowing-up the solar power market

Like most forms of renewable energy, solar power still loses points for cost effectiveness. Two Swiss energy pioneers hope to change that with a blow-up solution.

Wood, Biomass

Waste not, wood not

Biofuel takes renewable energy out of woods.


St Gallen geothermal power project abandoned

Part 6: Energy 2050

The Federal Council has developed a long-term energy policy (“Energy Strategy 2050“) based on the revised energy perspectives. At the same time, it has produced an initial package of measures aimed at securing the country’s energy supply over the long term.

  • What are the aims of Energy 2050?
  • How does the document suggest Switzerland will be able to guarantee the energy supply of the country as a whole?
  • Increasing the use of Hydro power and Renewable Energy production are at the heart of the Energy 2050 strategy. Use the information above (Part 3) to discuss some of the problems in increasing Switzerland’s depedency on Hydro and Renewables. Use data and examples wherever possible.

Part 6: Can Switzerland cope without Nuclear? Switzerland Energy Future

Energy Presentation Project: Where will Switzerland’s electricity come from in the future?


You now have a good understanding of the many ways that we can produce electricity and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

It is now time to put this knowledge to use. Can Switzerland cope without nuclear power? You are going to add your voice to this debate.


You are to produce a 5 – 10 minute presentation about what how you think Switzerland can generate electricity in the future. Can Switzerland survive without nuclear?

Your presentation should use the information that you have collected as you have worked through the tasks above. I would suggest using the headings below as an outline for your presentation. This way you cover all of the important points.

1) Introduction

2) How much electricity does Switzerland use and how is it used?

3) How has Switzerland’s energy consumption changed and how is this expected to change in the future?

4) How does Switzerland get its electricity?

5) Where will Switzerland’s electricity come from in the future?

  • Why not Nuclear?

  • More Hydro Power?

  • What about other renewables?

6) Energy 2050; is it realistic? What would you do? Can Switzerland cope without nuclear power?

Presentation Skills:

Click here to go to the skills page and learn more about how to create a good presentation.


You will be assessed on both the content of your presentation and the presentation itself.

Here are the two forms that I will use to assess you

Swiss Electricity Presentation content rubric.docx

Presentation mark scheme.pdf