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Italy's Nuclear Power Comeback, Facing Strong Opposition and Referendum

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has big plans for the nation’s electric production. In spite of Italy’s incredible solar-energy potential, the growing electrical needs as a follow-up to the developing infrastructure in water supply and treatment, as well as transport upgrading, are taking up most of the resources.

As a result, Berlusconi intends to build nuclear power plants as providers of energy for about a quarter of the country’s electricity needs. This controversial initiative has already stirred the opposition and a national referendum, initiated by politician Antonio Di Pietro, was scheduled on Wednesday.

The referendum will take place between April 15 and June 15, but the outcome is likely to be unfavourable, considering Italy’s general hostility towards nuclear energy. Italy is the only G8 member that does not produce nuclear power as a result of the 1987 national referendum which decided to close all nuclear plants and phase out the production.

Enel, Italy’s biggest utility, partnered with French power colossus EDF for the building of nuclear power plants in Italy starting with 2013. The founding of a new nuclear safety agency in Italy, which has the purpose of selecting the nuclear construction sites and supervising the construction and operation of the plants, seemed to clear the path for this project. However, the referendum could put an end to all this.

Two other referendums against the water sector reform were also given a go on Wednesday, as fears of natural resource privatization escalades.

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