Switzerland has voted to start exiting nuclear power and replace it with renewable energy.

In a referendum held on Sunday, over 58% of the voters endorsed the need to go with cleaner power sources by replacing the country’s ageing nuclear power plants with new renewable power projects.

The country currently has five nuclear power plants that are fast approaching the end of their operational lifespan. These power plants cover the needs of one third of Switzerland’s energy requirements, as reported by BBC.

Although no date has been decided yet regarding the decommissioning of the nuclear power plants, the country will now look to focus on renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro power following the mandate.

Those who have been opposing the country’s plans to move away from nuclear power have claimed that Switzerland will have to pay a lot more money on renewable sources while the landscape risks at losing its beauty.

Green party president Regula Rytz, who has hailed the mandate as a moment of historic change, has been quoted by the publication to have said: “The Swiss population has said 'no' to the construction of new nuclear power plants and yes to the development of renewable energy.

“The conditions have also been set whereby the economy and households will need to take responsibility for the future.”

Following the Fukushima plant disaster in Japan during the 2011 tsunami, the Swiss government proposed to phase out nuclear energy and meet the country’s power requirements entirely from renewables by 2050.

While the new mandate lets the government to implement the plan from January 2018, a previous referendum seeking the lifespan of the nuclear plants reduced from 60 years to 45 years was rejected by the voters in November last year.

Image: The Beznau Nuclear Power Plant, one of the five nuclear plants in Switzerland. Photo: courtesy of Roland Zumbühl, Arlesheim/Wikipedia.