15 May 2023

Renewed interest of industry and private sector for nuclear in Italy

These last months have witnessed a renewed interest in Italy of industry, and the private sector in general, for nuclear. The reasons behind this are mainly the need to investigate options to help (1) reducing carbon dioxide emissions to cope with climate change issues, (2) decreasing electricity prices, and (3) increasing the security of energy supply by lowering the current reliance on foreign natural gas imports.

Several high-level initiatives have been recently launched and attracted attention of mass-media.

On March the 6th, 2023, Edison, Italy's second-largest utility, Ansaldo Energia, Ansaldo Nucleare and the French EdF have signed a Letter of Intents (LoI) to cooperate to the development of new advanced nuclear power plants in Europe and to favour their diffusion, in perspective, also in Italy. Likewise, the strengthening of the European supply chain, in view of the possible expansion in Europe linked with the 2050 carbon neutrality goal, is among the aims stated in the LoI. The focus of the attention is on the LWR reactors developed by EdF, like NUWARDTM SMR, the EPR1200 and larger-size EPR.

On March the 13th, 2023, ENEL and newcleo signed a Cooperation Agreement to pursue joint projects on Gen. IV technologies and concepts currently under development by newcleo. ENEL will contribute by making available specialistic competences, technicians, and experts; newcleo will guarantee to ENEL the option of first investor in the first nuclear power plant that newcleo will build out of Italy. The first step of the delivery roadmap of newcleo is the design and construction of a 30 MWe LFR by 2030; this will be followed by a 200 MWe commercial unit, together with a MOX fuel production facility for their LFR.

On September the 13th, 2022, Federacciai, the Italian Federation of Steel Industries, and Ansaldo Nucleare signed an agreement that will allow the funding, with a contribution of about 400 M€, of the construction of a second NPP unit at the Slovenian site of Krško, if and when this will be actually built. The Italian investment will allow the Italian steel industries to receive electricity produced in Slovenia at low and fixed price for ten years since the commissioning of the new unit. This financial operation will increase the competitiveness of Italian ironworking companies and will guarantee the stability of production prices for many years.

In these weeks, discussions are being scheduled in the lower chamber of the Italian Parliament to define the possible role and tasks of the Government in evaluating the opportunity to include also the nuclear energy source in the Italian energy mix.


Federico Rocchi