Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Italy to select four reactor sites

Government takes next steps in shift from fossil fuels

The Italian government issued a policy statement this week identifying the  site selection criteria to locate four new nuclear reactors.  The first unit will break ground by 2013 and is expected to be in revenue service by 2020.  Reuters reports that Italy’s biggest utility Enel (BIT:ENEL) and French nuclear giant EDF plan to build the reactors. 

ScajolaClaudio Scajola, (left) the lead government minister for Italy’s nuclear program, said the policy will allow the government to select sites for the power stations, storage for spent nuclear fuel, and provide financial incentives to communities that agree to host the plants.

Opposition to nuclear energy runs high among local politicians in some parts of the country, but the government is taking its case to court to over turn local laws that include bans against construction of nuclear energy facilities.  Scajola said the plants most likely will be located in the southern part of Italy in Puglia, Campania, and Basilicata.

Scajola also said the government would engage in extensive consultations with local populations that would include reform of permit procedures as well as transparency for monitoring of construction and plant operations.

Utility CEO in forefront of public advocacy

fulvio_contiENEL utility CEO Fulvio Conti (right) is doing something his American counterparts might want to watch with interest. He is launching a full-throated campaign to promote nuclear energy in Italy and he is not mincing words when it comes to its benefits.  His two primary themes are;

  • Nuclear energy is the only technology to provide reliable 24 x 7 power to meet base load demand and
  • Opposition to nuclear energy is based on “prejudice, unjustified fear, and suspicion.”

“Nuclear power is cleaner, safer and more socially responsible. It is part of the solution to move towards greater independence and is friendly to the environment.”

ANSI.IT reported Conti also said at a technology conference that solar, energy and other natural energy sources, “… depend on nature, which is a somewhat erratic distributor of these sources and thus cannot guarantee meeting energy demands 24 hours a day, 30 days a month and 365 days a year”.

This is why we need a mix of energy sources which also includes nuclear power,” Conti said.

Environment and economic development mix

stefaniaprestigiacomo1Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo (left) said at the same conference a return to nuclear  power “is not an easy path, considering we are practically starting from square one”.

“The government is strongly committed to this goal, in particular the environment ministry, which is one of the two pillars supporting the nuclear agency. It’s not going to be easy but we’re working on it and working together,” she added.

In prior interviews she has emphasized the need for economic development in the southern provinces of Italy, which is where the government is planning to build the reactors.

Italy abandoned nuclear power in 1987 after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and is now the only leading western power without it. Last year the Italian parliament gave its green light to a return to nuclear power through which Italy hopes to cover 25% of its energy needs in the future.

Prior coverage on this blog

  • May 2008 – Italy reverses course on nuclear energy
  • April 2009 – Italy’s nuclear renaissance
  • July 2009 – Update – Italy’s nuclear renaissance
  • September 2009 – Italy advances on nuclear energy, Germany falters

# # #

No comments: