Rome, Italy — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 21 June 2011 – Italians have decisively said ‘no thanks’ to nuclear power for a second time in a nationwide referendum, and the nation has placed itself in a position where it must now turn increasingly to renewable energy.
The vote is a stinging rebuke to Conservative Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had hoped to revive the country’s dormant nuclear industry.
Italians voted in a 1987 referendum to prevent new nuclear power plants. Subsequently, the government decided in 1988 to phase out existing reactors. Now Berlusconi has conceded defeat saying farewell to nuclear power and noting that the country must now develop its renewable energy resources.
The Italian referendum follows Germany’s proposal to close all its reactors by 2022 and Switzerland’s decision to phase out its nuclear plants as well.
Meanwhile, the Italian government has adopted detailed new tariffs for solar photovoltaic systems (solar PV), targeting 23,000MW by 2017. The new target supersedes the previous 8,000 MW target that was likely to be surpassed this year.
At the end of 2010, Italy officially installed a total solar PV capacity of 3,000 MW. There may have been as much as 4,000MW of additional capacity installed in 2010, but the paperwork had not yet been processed. Consequently, there could have been 7,000MW of solar PV now operating in Italy.
By comparison, Germany has a current installed capacity of 17,000MW. There is about 2,200 MW of solar PV installed in the USA.
Italy is currently the world’s second largest market for solar PV, following Germany. The new policy ensures that Italy will likely maintain this position for the foreseeable future.