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Italian parliament backs Meloni plan to reactivate nuclear

(Montel) The Italian parliament on Tuesday backed the government’s plan to include nuclear in the country’s energy mix as part of its decarbonisation efforts after abandoning its nuclear programme nearly four decades ago.

“We will now discuss with our European partners and evaluate, with the utmost attention, how to include it in the national energy mix of the next decades with the aim of achieving, also with the help of nuclear power, the decarbonisation objectives set by the European Union,” said the energy ministry in a statement following the parliament’s approval.

Since she took office late last year, Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni has openly supported the reactivation of the country’s long-shuttered nuclear power plants. All reactors were shut down by 1990 following a referendum in 1987.

The inclusion of nuclear power in the energy mix would mean that nuclear producers were guaranteed the sale of all their production through auctions and contracts dedicated to low-carbon technologies, with consequent reductions of financial costs, according to a motion presented by government parties.

It estimated a nuclear capacity of 35 GW from seven plants by 2050.

“Fig leaf”

“Research and testing [in nuclear] have made enormous strides in recent decades,” said the ministry. “Fourth-generation nuclear power, according to scientists, is as safe as it is clean.”

However, Sergio Costa, vice president of Italy’s chamber of deputies, dubbed today’s vote a “fig leaf”.

“We are talking about fourth-generation nuclear power, which in fact does not exist,” he told Montel. “Nuclear power defined as clean and sustainable, which is a chimera, does not exist in any other country.”

The government was using this motion to introduce nuclear power into the country’s energy mix, neglecting the rejections to nuclear expressed by the Italian people in two referendums in 1987 and 2011, he added.

In addition, Costa said implementing this technology would take a very long time and would not be “compatible with the urgency dictated by the climate crisis we are already experiencing”.