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ENERGY IN THE AGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE - Italy Joins European Nuclear Power Revival

Mike Ciavarella's picture

Speaking of Grand Challenges, why we never talk of Energy in Imechanica? There are certainly mechanical implications. And Energy is top of the list at the www.engineeringchallenges.org project.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,druck-554969,00.html 

Italy Joins European Nuclear Power Revival

 

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ENERGY IN THE AGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Italy Joins European Nuclear Power Revival

With the new Italian government saying it wants to pave the
way to construct new nuclear power plants, Germany's chancellor says its time
for Berlin to rethink its energy policies. It "doesn't make sense," Merkel
argues, to take Germany's nuclear plants offline.

A debate is raging across Europe on the merits of nuclear power in the age of climate change.

Getty Images

A debate is raging across Europe on the merits of nuclear power in the age of
climate change.

Italy on Thursday said it would join a growing
number of European countries returning to nuclear
power
in the face of rising energy prices and concerns about climate change.
In a referendum in 1987, Italians voted to ban nuclear power and deactivate the
country's reactors. But now the country says it wants to start building nuclear
power plants again before the end of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's term,
with the first construction scheduled to begin by 2013.

"Only nuclear plants safely produce energy on a vast scale with competitive
costs, respecting the environment," Italian Economic Development Minister
Claudio Scajola said. "An action plan to go back to nuclear power cannot be
delayed anymore."

Giuseppe Onufio, director of Greenpeace Italy, called it a "declaration of
war." And it is unclear how Berlusconi's government will be able to override the
anti-nuclear referendum.

It's a dramatic turnaround for Italy, which along with Germany and Belgium
long led the campaign against nuclear energy in Europe. Germany and Belgium both
banned construction of new plants years ago, and in 2000 the government of
then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder moved to take all the country's nuclear power
plants offline by 2022. But ambitious climate protection plans and the price of
oil fast approaching $150 a barrel have sparked a debate about
alternative energy forms across Europe, including Germany, where the government
is calling for a 40-percent cut in carbond-dioxide emissions by 2020.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has her hands tied because the
agreement between her party, the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and its
junior coalition partner in government, the left-leaning Social Democratic
Party, observes the planned phase-out. But Merkel has been very public in her
desire for a nuclear power renaissance.

Speaking on Thursday at a national Catholic conference in the city of
Osnabrück, Merkel said Germany's plan to abandon nuclear power "didn't make
sense," especially as a country "with the safest nuclear power plants." She said
the country would be making a "laughing stock" of itself if it abandoned the
production of nuclear power for the sake of a good conscience only to turn
around and import nuclear energy from other countries.

dsl

 

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