* Expects to build new gas plants to meet demand
* Switzerland unveils energy strategy to 2050
By Emma Farge
GENEVA, Sept 28 Switzerland would have to charge
higher end-user power prices and resort to new gas-fired plants
to fill the supply gap created by its planned nuclear phase-out
prompted by Japan's Fukushima accident, the Swiss energy
ministry said on Friday.
The country, which voted last May to phase out nuclear by
2034, on Friday unveiled an ambitious energy strategy intended
as a road map for coping with the transition.
"It will be necessary to temporarily develop electricity
from fossil fuels... until the energy needs can be completely
covered by renewable energy," the energy ministry said in a
statement on Switzerland's new strategy through to 2050.
It said that such plants would probably include combined
heat and power units as well as Combined Cycle Gas Turbines
(CCGTs). Some analysts expect global gas prices to tumble due to
the ready availability of new sources from shale, increasing the
The statement also said the average household electricity
bill, estimated at 890 Swiss Francs ($950) a year, was due to
rise in line with higher costs for renewable energy and to cover
the costs of investment in the grid.
The Alpine country, which sources about 40 percent of its
energy from five nuclear power plants, joined Germany in voting
to phase out nuclear energy after the Japan Fukushima crisis
shook confidence in the sector.
Now doubts are emerging about the ability of these countries
to expand their renewable capacity in time for when nuclear
station shutdowns will squeeze supply margins.
The West's energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency,
has already warned that Switzerland may struggle to meet its
future power demand and that end users may face higher prices as
part of the transition.
Belgium's cabinet postponed the planned closure of one of
its oldest nuclear reactors by a decade in July over concerns
about finding alternative power sources. Germany may have to
slow down its planned transformation to green energy amid cost
concerns, its Environment Minister said in August.
The Swiss strategy, part of a public consultation, envisages
a greater role for hydropower and renewables as part of its new
strategy. It includes targets for hydropower production of
37,400 GWH and renewable energy production of 11,940 GWH by
The strategy also includes several measures designed to
accelerate the process of obtaining permits for renewable energy
Switzerland's strong tradition of direct democracy can slow
the development of controversial projects such as wind farms,
denounced by some as eyesores. A new version of the strategy
will be released in 2014 after the public consultation.
($1 = 0.9398 Swiss francs)
(Editing by James Jukwey)