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Electricity generation in Italy

Italy is poor in natural resources and depends heavily on imported energy supply. In 2000, about 83% of Italy's energy was imported. Natural gas is Italy's largest domestic source of energy.

Currently no nuclear power plants are in operation in Italy.

Developments in the nuclear sector

2011, June: Rejection of nuclear power revival in referendum after Fukushima accident

"Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has accepted the rejection of his nuclear power plans and other policies in a popular referendum.

With more than 90% opposition to his policies, he said Italians had made their opinion "clear" and government and parliament must "respond fully".

The PM had wanted to restart a nuclear programme abandoned in the 1980s.

Voters also repealed water privatisation and immunity from trial for government ministers.

Turnout was about 57%, a significant rise on participation in previous referendums - and a firm rejection of Mr Berlusconi's call for voters to boycott the referendum. Had turnout been less than 50%, the result would have been invalid.

More than 94% of voters opposed the government's plans to resume nuclear power generation, while 95% voted to strip Mr Berlusconi of special privileges in legal cases.
Fukushima factor

The high turnout showed "a will on the part of citizens to participate in decisions about our future that cannot be ignored", Mr Berlusconi said in a statement.

"The will of Italians is clear on all the subjects of this consultation," he added.

"The government and parliament must now respond fully."

After a series of referendums over the past 16 years which failed because they did not achieve minimum turnout, the centre-left opposition campaigned hard to get voters to the polling stations. "


2011, Jan: Italy can hold nuclear referendum

13 January 2011

"A ruling by Italy's Constitutional Court makes possible a referendum on the partial repeal of laws allowing the construction of new nuclear power plants.

The Constitutional Court decision is the culmination of a process that began with the April 2010 proposal for a referendum from centrist political party Italia dei Valori (Italy of Values). A petition by the party successfully gathered the 500,000 signatures of Italian voters needed for the referendum to proceed through the Italian legislative system. This was presented to the Constitutional Court for it's final ruling on the admissibility of the proposed referendum. Italia dei Valori leader Antonio Di Pietro is an outspoken opponent of nuclear power.

According to the Italian Nuclear Forum, the referendum would be held on a Sunday between 15 April and 15 June this year, with the exact date to be announced by the president of Italy after consideration by the Council of Ministers.

Italy chose to phase out nuclear power in a 1987 referendum, and has not operated a nuclear power plant since 1990. However in recent years the country has been moving back towards nuclear power production. A change in government policy in 2008 marked the beginning of plans for a program of nuclear construction to reduce the country's dependence on oil, gas and imported power. Currently four large reactors are proposed by the utility Enel in cooperation with Electricité de France, while other European utilities are highly interested in the emerging nuclear market.

The proposed referendum concerns the partial repeal of several laws introduced since 2008 to enable the construction of new Italian nuclear power plants to go ahead. Legislative referenda in Italy require a quorum of over 50% of all eligible voters to cast their vote in order to be valid. This is one of the highest quora in Europe, and no Italian legislative referendum has been able to reach it in over a decade. "


2010, Dez: Italy to outline nuclear energy strategy

"Brussels (Platts)--16Dec2010

Italy intends to vote on a nuclear energy strategy plan "in a few weeks," Giovanni Lelli, commissioner for Italian national research agency ENEA, told reporters in Brussels Wednesday.

The plan will detail how the government intends to develop nuclear power in Italy, including setting up a nuclear energy agency, identifying possible sites, deciding on surface and geological waste storage, and mobilizing public approval for power plant locations and waste deposits, Lelli said.

Italy will have to pool resources to boost know-how given it has had a moratorium on nuclear power since 1987.

"ENEA is developing a working plan with universities," Lelli said.

Both ENEA and ISPRA, Italy's environmental protection agency which will act as the country's nuclear safety agency, will help with providing staff, technical support and financing for the agency.

"I do hope that within a few months [the government] will move to set up an agency," he said.

Italy would "behave like other EU countries" and hopes that by the time waste from third and fourth-generation nuclear reactors is an issue, in 20-plus years, a mainland European waste repository would be in place, Lelli said.

"To be a modern country we need nuclear infrastructure and nuclear [waste] deposits. We are thinking about surface deposits and we will wait and see how developments progress in geological storage," Lelli said.

Italy needs to move away from being dependent on energy imports and nuclear power will be a key way to achieve this and meet climate change reduction goals, Lelli said.

"Italy is trying to do its best to meet defined international goals with regard to CO2 emissions. Italy must try to improve energy efficiency in final use and improve in the area of renewable and nuclear," Lelli told Platts. "We have many years of hard work to develop the offer side [of renewable and nuclear energy]."

Lelli described Italy's nuclear moratorium, prompted by the Chernobyl disaster, as "a big mistake."

"I hope that this time Italy will follow the main track of most other EU industrial countries and have nuclear," he said.

Energy policy must be focused and more progress made on EU energy laws such as security of supply and nuclear safety, Lelli said.

"We have to use the opportunity to develop a global green growth. You cannot move only with goals and incentives but you need real politics at an EU level," he said.

Lelli added that Italy's political instability--the country's premier Silvio Berlusconi and his center-right coalition party only narrowly survived a no confidence vote on Wednesday--was a problem.

"You need a stable government. You cannot change your mind every few years on something [nuclear power] that needs 10 years to build and lasts maybe 60 years," he said."

--Jane Morecroft,

2010, Jan: Deadlines for new nuclear laws are drawing near

"Deadlines included in Italy's new nuclear laws are drawing near. Siting criteria for new reactors are to be announced within weeks, but some local authorities are rebelling and key agency staff are not yet in place.

On the last day of 2009 the regional council of the Campania region - home of the shut-down Garigliano nuclear power plant - voted against any nuclear development, complaining that it did not agree with the central government decision to return to nuclear power. The blocking move follows a similar decision in the Puglia region, both inspired by language in the Italian constitution with specifies there must be agreement between regional and central government over energy developments. The Italian Supreme Court is the only body with the authority to interpret the constitution and is now expected to have to act.

The policy disagreement would appear to complicate decisions on siting the nuclear power reactors Italian leaders want built to bring lower prices and security of supply. The law that brought nuclear power back to the country required the government to announce criteria for selecting sites within six months, with the five former nuclear power sites specifically excluded. That law was adopted on 9 July 2009 and the government is now approaching its deadline.

A joint venture between Italy's main utility, Enel, and Electricité de France is working on feasibility studies towards 'at least four' Areva EPR units at three sites. Each reactor would be build by a separate build company, with opportunities for other investors to join. Other large European utilities would also like involvement in the promising Italian market and further major projects are expected to emerge during this year.

However, key roles remain unfilled at the newly created Agency for Nuclear Safety, also to begin operation on the same deadline as the siting criteria announcement. In an interview, Stefano Saglia, undersecretary of economic development, said he hoped the top management of the agency will be chosen this month. "I do not see big obstacles to prevent (the choice)," he said."


2009, Aug: Company to develop Italian NPPs is launched

"The main French and Italian utilities have founded their joint venture company for new reactors in Italy while raising billions from bond issues, apparently to fund the projects.

Sviluppo Nucleare Italia is the name of the new Rome-based company set up today by Enel with its 50-50 partner Electricité de France (EdF). It translates as 'Developing Italian Nuclear'. In line with their agreement, the firm is to conduct feasibility studies into constructing four 1650 MWe Areva EPR units at new sites in Italy. If new build proves feasible, separate project companies will be set up to execute build, own and operate the new power plants.

But development comes at a price - the news comes just one working day after Enel announced in its half-year report that it would issue up to €10 billion ($14.3 billion) in bonds before the end of next year. For its part EdF raised €3.3 billion ($4.7 billion) through the issue of bonds in mid-July in common with several other issuances which have helped to fund its construction of an EPR at Flamanville as well as the purchases of British Energy and a near-50% stake in Constellation."

2009, July: Italy adopts new energy legislation

"The adoption of new energy legislation in Italy means the official end of anti-nuclear policies. Planning for new reactors can now begin in earnest.

The bill covers the establishment of a Nuclear Regulatory Agency appointed by the President and gives the government six months to select sites for possible new build, with previous its four previous nuclear power sites ruled out. World Nuclear Association director general John Ritch said: "The question now is whether the Berlusconi government can overcome the challenges of siting and financing. Both will depend on its ability to sidestep NIMBY reactions and generate a strong sense of regional competition for these major infrastructure projects."

The country's major utility, Enel, has a partnership with Electricité de France (EdF) for a joint venture investigation towards building four 1650 MWe reactors. Germany's EOn is also keen to gain leading roles in nuclear build projects and these raise the prospect of Italy building 10,000 MWe of nuclear capacity in coming decades - enough to supply over 25% of current electricity demand."

(source: world nuclear news)

2009, Feb: Agreements on nuclear power between Italy and France

French and Italian companies will have integral roles in each other's nuclear future, after agreements signed today in Rome.
In the 27th Franco-Italian summit a new agreement on cooperation in nuclear energy was concluded by the states.

An immediate commercial aspect to cooperation was represented by two deals between Electricité de France and Enel.
Firstly, the two will form a 50/50 partnership to conduct feasibility studies towards "at least four EPRs in Italy." Any Italian EPRs would be built, owned and operated by new companies instituted for the task. Enel would retain a majority stake and EdF's involvement would be expected but further investors would be also be invited.

The second deal will see Enel take a 12.5% stake in the new reactor to be constructed at Penly.
(source: world nuclear news)

On the homepage of the newspaper "La Repubblica" only 20% among 60,000 readers argued for nuclear power - 67% argued against it. 12% want to wait for the reactors of generation IV. The latter reflects the technical and financial problem at the construction of reactors of the third generation like they can currently be observed in Finland, where the prototype will go on line with 3 years delay (source: Salzburger Nachrichten 26. Feb. 2009).

2008, May: Construction of new NPPs planned

Italy announced in May 2008 that within five years it planned to resume building nuclear energy plants, two decades after a public referendum resoundingly banned nuclear power and deactivated all its reactors.

“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.” "
(source: New York Times May 23, 2008)

By the end of the year 2008 the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi affirmed in a press conference that NPPs had to be built on Italian territory in order to be able to meet the countries increasing energy demand. He further announced that Italy planned to start a co-operation with France and Great Britain in the nuclear sector.
(source: Der Standard, Dec. 21 2008)

2005: Relaunch of nuclear energy?

In January 2005 Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced a relaunch of nuclear energy because of the high cost of imported electricity and the problem of energy reserves.
Berlusconi stated that energy costs in Italy were 20 to 30% higher than in other countries. The prime minister also pointed out that NPPs in neighbouring countries expose Italy to risk in any case. This argument failed to convince the opposition or environmentalist associations.

2003: Blackout

In September 2003 Italy sufferd a countrywide electricity-blackout for some hours. Since then demands for an efficient electricity supply system have been growing.

1999: Strategies about problems connected NPP-closures

In December 1999, the Italian Ministry of Industry outlined its strategic choices and plans to manage the problems connected with the closure of all nuclear activities within the country. The statement outlined three main goals:

  1. Within a 10-year period, the treatment and conditioning of all liquid and solid radwaste currently in onsite storage, mostly resulting from the operation of the plants, with a view to subsequent transport to a national waste repository.
  2. Site selection and construction of a national repository for low and intermediate level waste, also within a decade. The same site would be used for temporary storage of high level, long lived waste, especially spent fuel and waste resulting from reprocessing.
  3. In the next 20 years, decommissioning of the nuclear plants (nuclear power plants as well as other nuclear facilities) with a long-term view of returning all sites to unrestricted use.

Italy has a problem with illegal dumping of nuclear waste in the Mediterranean by the "Ocean Disposal Management" (ODM) which is said to be part of the Mafia. ODM has dumped severals ships containing nuclear and other waste. The waste is said to derive not only from Italy, but also from other European countries and the ex-SU. Legambiente, an Italian environmental organisation, tries to fight this dumping.
Around 5.000 tonnes of eastern European radioactive metal waste is finding its way annually to Italy, highlighted Legambiente. According to a report, between 1997 and 1999 the police undertook a total of 865 inspections of suspected trafficked material, and recorded 113 crimes. A total of 94 people were implicated and 17 loads of material were confiscated. Much of the trafficking was recorded in northern Italy, notably in Lombardy. The trafficking also includes trade in plutonium and enriched uranium, the material presumably comes from the former Soviet Union and its satellites. Waste trafficking is highly lucrative.

1990: Closure of all NPPs

In 1990 Italy closed its four remaining nuclear power plants after a referendum in 1987 in the aftermath of Chernobyl.

1990s: Termination of nuclear fuel reprocessing

In the middle of the 90ties, ENEL decided to terminate nuclear fuel reprocessing in its own pilot reprocessing plants and to proceed with interim dry storage of the remaining spent fuel of light water reactors. Nevertheless spent fuel is exported to Sellafield for reprocessing which is protested against by some environmental activists in Italy and in Sellafield, but other Italien NGOs prefer storage abroad.

Next to its NPPs Italy had two major nuclear centers with reprocessing and storage facilites (Saluggia und Trisaia), and also 5 research reactors in operation, 4 shutdown and 5 already decommissioned. Together with the EU in Ispra a Joint Research Center was in operation.

Sites With Nuclear Facilities

siteplantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
Bosco MarengoFabbricazioni NucleariFuel Fabrication1995
CaorsoCaorsoBWR 900196919781990
GariglianoGariglianoBWR 150195819631982
LatinaLatinaGCR 150195819631987
SaluggiaSaluggiaNuclear Center
TrinoTrinoPWR 260196119641990
TrisaiaTrisaiaNuclear Center