Italy will begin new nuclear power station construction by 2013, reversing the 'terrible mistake' made in phasing out nuclear power, said Claudio Scajola, Italy's Minister for Economic Development.
|Claudio Scajola (Image: www.claudioscajola.it)
Scajola reiterated that 'the new Berlusconi government has decided to re-launch nuclear power in Italy' before explaining that the closing down of all the nuclear power plants following the 1987 referendum was a 'terrible mistake, the cost of which totalled over €50 billion (approximately $68 billion), if you count direct and indirect costs.' He was speaking at a special event in Paris to mark the 50th anniversary of the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency.
With power costs in Italy currently 'one third higher than in most of Europe' and a generation mix of 'more than 60% natural gas, most imported', Italy’s minister sees nuclear as a way to address cost, emissions and import dependence simultaneously. He stated that nuclear power is 'cost competitive', can 'reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports' and that it can 'make a major contribution in responding to the three major climate change challenges'. The Italian government's 'first goal will be to set up legal, regulatory and technical conditions with the view to beginning construction of new plants by 2013 – before the end of the current legislature'.
To oversee this process 'the government is setting up a new national security agency for nuclear safety and security – it will define criteria for site and technology selection, simplify licensing, and define compensation amounts and mechanisms for populations that may have to move, and also develop strategies for decommissioning and waste.'
The long term aim, according to Scajola, is to 'rebalance the power generation in Italy'. By 2030 the Italian government would like to see nuclear power taking a 25% share in generation, with renewables on the same level and fossil fuels making up the remaining 50%. Scajola said that the population are supportive of the government's energy plans and called for international cooperation and harmonisation to facilitate the process.
In 2009 Italy will be chairing the G8 group of industrialised nations (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia, the UK and the USA). Italy is already 'organising an energy meeting in May to discuss the role of nuclear in economic growth and environmental protection', Sacjola said. Among the G8 leaders, only Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel cannot openly support nuclear power.