Italians Refuse to Return to Nuclear

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted June 14, 2011

In 1987, following the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine, Italians voted to completely shut down their nuclear power generators.

And 24 years later, they aren’t budging.

In 2008, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had overturned that decision and made administrative plans to not only bring back nuclear power but to actually produce 25% of Italy’s energy from nuclear by 2020.

During a referendum this week, however, Italian’s weren’t having it.

In order to overturn legislation in a referendum, 50% of voters must participate, and this particular event called out 57% of Italy’s registered voters.

And the legislation for the return of nuclear power received a 94% opposition rate.

It seems that the Fukushima disaster has just done the same thing for Italians as it did for Germans, even if Berlusconi promised to put nuclear plans on hold for a year after Japan’s nuclear meltdown.

They demand alternatives.

In 2010, 22.2% of Italy’s power came from renewable energy sources. 64.8% were from fossil fuels, and 13% were imported sources, including French nuclear power.

This decision to stay away from nuclear for the foreseeable future is going to require Italy to increase other energy sources as time goes on – one of these is bound to be an increased dependence on foreign oil.

The problem with this is that while two of Italy’s main oil providers are Russia and Algeria, the third is – or rather, was – Libya.

And so some Italians are hoping more natural gas will be used.

And of course, they are also looking to increase renewable energy to around 30%.

After the results of the referendum were announced, Enel Green Power (ETR: ENZ) stocks rose 3%. Italians have begun to place their bets with renewable energy.

There are certain obstacles to increasing power from renewable sources, however.

Hydroelectric, which is currently the most-used renewable energy source in Italy at 14.9% of all energy supply, can’t really grow to produce much more than it already does.

Solar, however, at only 0.5% of total energy supply, will become a growing field in Italy.

As solar is an increasing power source worldwide, Italian officials are hoping the cost of creating solar power will decrease, allowing the country to expand its use.

A wise choice for sunny Italy.

That’s all for now,


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