Italian firms assess advanced reactor deployment

12 March 2024

Italy's Enel and Ansaldo Nucleare have agreed to jointly examine and evaluate new technologies and business models for the generation of nuclear energy - such as small modular reactors and advanced modular reactors - and their industrial applicability.

The two companies have signed a collaboration agreement under which they will explore the prospects for small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced modular reactors (AMRs), analysing in particular their opportunities from an industrial point of view.

"These are state-of-the-art innovative reactors, some of which are still under development, which will potentially enable the generation of electricity from nuclear sources in a sustainable and economical way, ensuring a high degree of versatility and flexibility during operation," they said in a joint statement.

Specifically, in addition to progressively assessing the degree of maturity of the new SMR and AMR reactors and of related operational areas, the agreement foresees that the two companies "will build a common path in which the analysis, monitoring and possible evaluation of joint initiatives contribute to verifying the effective applicability of the two technologies, with special focus on the involvement of the Italian supply chain".

Enel and Ansaldo Nucleare noted: "The goal is therefore to use innovative technologies as a development lever for a future competitive advantage of the country in terms of new generation nuclear power."

Italy operated a total of four nuclear power plants starting in the early 1960s but decided to phase out nuclear power in a referendum that followed the 1986 Chernobyl accident. It closed its last two operating plants, Caorso and Trino Vercellese, in 1990.

In late March 2011, following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Italian government approved a moratorium of at least one year on construction of nuclear power plants in the country, which had been looking to restart its long-abandoned nuclear programme. In a poll held in June of that year, 94% of voters rejected the construction of any new nuclear reactors in Italy. However, a poll conducted in June 2021 showed that one-third of Italians were in favour of reconsidering the use of nuclear energy in the country, with more than half of respondents saying they would not exclude the future use of new advanced nuclear technologies.

In May last year, the Italian Parliament approved a motion to urge the government to consider incorporating nuclear power into the country's energy mix. In September, the first meeting was held of the National Platform for Sustainable Nuclear Power, set up by the government to define a time frame for the possible resumption of nuclear energy in Italy and identify opportunities for the country's industrial chain already operating in the sector. It is expected to develop guidelines by mid-2024.

Enel and Ansaldo Nucleare have been operating in the nuclear sector outside of Italy for several years. They are both part of the National Platform for Sustainable Nuclear Power.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News