In a move intended to bring an end to being the world's biggest net importer of electricity, the Italian government today announced that they will begin building nuclear power plants by 2013. The decision is a reversal of a 1987 referendum, banning the use of nuclear power in the country. From The New York Times,
“By the end of this legislature we will put down the foundation stone for the construction in our country of a group of new-generation nuclear plants,” said Claudio Scajola, minister of economic development. “An action plan to go back to nuclear power can not be delayed anymore.”
The change for Italy is a striking sign of the times, reflecting growing concern in many European countries over the skyrocketing price of oil and energy security, as well as the warming effects of carbon emissions from fossil fuels. All have combined to make this once-scorned form of energy far more palatable.
“Italy has had the most dramatic, the most public turnaround, but the sentiments against nuclear are reversing very quickly all across Europe — Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany and more,” said Ian Hore-Lacey, spokesman for the World Nuclear Association, an industry group based in London.