Italian cabinet minister speaks in favour of nuclear

13 February 2007

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema expressed support for the use of nuclear power as a part of a diverse mix of economic energy sources at a high-level round table discussion.

Speaking at a round table discussion on "Energy Security and Italian Foreign Policy: the European Prospective", D'Alema spoke about "the long-term challenge of a fossil free economy." Referring to the importance of the diversification of the energy mix, he added that "vision and realism are needed, taking into account economic and technological boundaries" and that "it is necessary to exploit the best technologies for the use of clean coal" and "even to utilize nuclear power."
In his speech, which also covered the expansion of the EU to the south east of the continent and the need for a post-Kyoto protocol agreement including all major economies, D'Alema underlined the need for competitiveness in the energy sector and pointed out that "the price of electricity in Italy is higher than the European average. This anomaly, he clarified, can be explained by the different energy mix employed in the country. The rest of Europe in fact, relies on nuclear, or coal to meet the greater part of their electricity needs, while Italy is the only country in which - even today - a relevant share of its production derives from oil, or natural gas."

The round table was chaired by D'Alema, flanked by the Minister for Economic Development, Pierluigi Bersani, and the European Commissioner for Energy, Andris Piebalgs. Representatives of the Italian energy sector (including the President of the Electrical Energy and Gas Authority, the CEO of ENI and the CEO of ENEL) also took part in the debate, which was concluded by Chicco Testa (President of the organising committee of the Rome 2007 World Energy Congress and former president of ENEL).
Summarizing the proceedings of the discussion, Testa singled out four themes, which should become the pillars of the European energy policy:

1. Nuclear power as a low emitting, abundant and economic source of energy.
2. Renewables and energy efficiency.
3. Diversity of supply and reduced dependency on imports.
4. Strengthening of the European internal energy market.

Testa's comments reflect an increasingly positive attitude towards nuclear energy in Italy. Following a referendum in November 1987, the government resolved to halt all nuclear construction, shut the remaining reactors and decommission them. Testa - who at the time was the president of the 'Environmental League' - was one of the promoters of that referendum.

Further information

Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
World Energy Congress 2007

WNA's Nuclear Energy in Italy information paper

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