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Italy mulls return to nuclear in 10 years

  • Market: Electricity
  • 04/09/23

The Italian government has restated its ambition of reviving the Italian nuclear energy industry, with several ministers announcing plans to restart nuclear generation within the next 10 years.

"I count that within the next 10 years this government, in its current formation, will be able to inaugurate the first [energy] production derived from nuclear," Italian transport minister and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini said at the European House-Ambrosetti economic forum on Sunday.

Meanwhile, environment minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin announced that he will chair the first meeting of the national platform for sustainable nuclear on 21 September. The "platform" is intended to be a co-ordinating entity for companies and institutions involved in various branches of the nuclear industry, including safety, radioprotection and toxic waste.

"We are not talking about building nuclear plants, but clarifying the state's commitment to research, experimentation, and implementing Italy's strong knowledge in the nuclear sector," Pichetto said.

The minister also said fourth-generation fission technology will be the government's main focus of attention, which means "considering small modular reactors to be a real possibility for the country over the next 10 years".

Italy had four nuclear reactors with approximately 1.4GW of aggregated capacity by 1966, according to the World Nuclear Association. The last two were shut down in 1990, following the Chernobyl disaster four years earlier, while a programme launched by the Berlusconi government in 2008 to reach 25pc of nuclear in the Italian power mix by 2030 was ruled out by a referendum in 2011.

Prime minister Giorgia Meloni's right-wing coalition has often expressed its ambition of reviving nuclear power in Italy as an aid to the green transition. Earlier this year, the government supported a French-sponsored alliance of pro-nuclear EU countries, although it has only attended the bloc's meetings as an observer.

And speaking at a conference in Milan in October, Pichetto said his government is "in favour of experimenting with the new generation of nuclear power" to deal with the energy crisis, adding that it "should be fully resorted to".

Currently, around 6pc of Italy's electricity demand is met by nuclear power imported from neighbouring markets.


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