Written By: John Shimkus
Italy has joined the ranks of its neighbors to the North—Switzerland and Germany—in banning nuclear power in light of the continuing nuclear crisis in Japan. Italian Industry Minister Paolo Romani has stated the ban is “coherent with a situation that has changed dramatically.” Romani adds that Italy will not seek nuclear power until an overall European Union atomic energy strategy is formulated.
Italy has been nuclear free since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, at which time the country dismantled all of its nuclear power plants. Italy had just recently begun reevaluating installing nuclear power plants when the Japan earthquake and tsunami struck, causing the Fukushima reactor crisis.
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Minister Romani comments that Italy will fully participate in European efforts to develop new nuclear safety standards. In the meantime, Italy will pursue renewable energy alternatives as well as tried-and-true traditional energy sources like oil, coal and natural gas. Italy currently derives 80 percent of its energy from fossil fuels, while the remaining 20 percent is comprised of hydroelectric and other renewable energy options.
Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s administration had been pursuing a revived Italian nuclear power program to reduce dependence on fossil fuels to 50 percent. The goal was to reduce energy costs across the country. Compared to neighboring France—a country heavily reliant on nuclear power—Italy pays twice as much for its energy needs.