Enel and Electricité de France have recently formed a joint venture to assess the feasibility of building at least four nuclear power plants in Italy, marking the latest stage in the relaunch of the country’s nuclear industry more than 20 years after it was rejected by the public.
The new venture, known as Sviluppo Nucleare Italia, will be based in Rome and follows the signing of an agreement between the heads of government of the two countries in earlier this year to restart nuclear power production in Italy.
Enel’s Chief Executive Fulvio Conti said in a statement that the venture “lays the ground for a concrete comeback of the nuclear in Italy”.
The new Enel/EdF joint venture, called Italy Nuclear Development, will run feasibility studies for the construction of at least four nuclear reactors in Italy, which individual companies would then build and operate.
The reactors would be the third generation European Pressurized Reactor or EPR variety, which is meant to eventually replace aging reactors around the world whose designs date from decades ago.
“The creation of this joint venture lays the ground for a concrete comeback of the nuclear in Italy and represents a unique opportunity for contributing to the recovery of the country’s economy, creating specialized jobs and increasing employment,” Conti said.
“In the past few years, Enel has been able to rebuild the nuclear skills and expertise, thanks to its international operations and we are now ready to take lead of the Italian nuclear program in co-operation with EdF, a world key player in this industry,” Conti said.
EdF and Enel have been working together since 2007. By a separate agreement Enel will take an identical-sized stake in the second EPR reactor that EdF is to build at Penly in Normandy.
“This partnership is in line with EDF’s Group strategy aimed at strengthening its position in Europe and at being the world leader of the revival of nuclear energy,” EDF CEO Pierre Gadonneix said.
Premier Silvio Berlusconi has made nuclear power a key part of his conservative government’s energy plan. Italians pay some of the highest electricity rates in Europe and nuclear power is seen as a way to lower them.