Italy's Senate has approved a modified version of a bill that will clear the way for a revival of nuclear energy in the country.
The Senate passed the bill, initially proposed by Silvio Berlusconi's government in August 2008, with 154 votes in favour, 98 against and 3 abstentions. The bill was launched in the Senate on 5 May by Antonio Paravia, who described it as "an especially significant measure that in the first place addresses the issue of economic development and, subsequently, energy and the return to nuclear power."
The bill had already been revised and passed by the lower house, the Camera dei Deputati, in November 2008. However, as the version approved by the Senate contains several further modifications, it must go back before the lower house for re-approval before it can become law as Italy's unique legislative system requires that both chambers must approve the same text. Mid-June is seen as a realistic date for the bill to pass into law. The government will then have up to 6 months to define criteria for identification of building sites, technology and so on.
French nuclear giant Electricite de Francé (EDF) and ENEL, the biggest Italian supplier of energy, have already signed an agreement to build at least 4 EPR nuclear power plants in Italy, starting work by 2013. However, Italy's minister of economic development, Claudio Scajola, has underlined that the February 2009 agreement between EDF and ENEL is 'non-exclusive' of other technological opportunities, suggesting there is room for other potential suppliers.
It appears that the so-called Finnish approach to funding, based on long-term supply contracts to major electricity users, is likely to be favoured.