Italy referendum bans nuclear power plants while renewable sector strengthens

A referendum was voted upon this week, and 57 percent of its voting population opted to abandon the use of nuclear energy.

It's been nearly two decades since any voter turnout was higher than 50 percent in the world's eighth-largest economy... The decision to phase out nuclear power was one of a four-part policy change proposal drafted by Italy's center-left opposition parties, one of which saw record numbers in voters due to the country's troubled political climate.

Italy's renewable programs — specifically solar and wind — have been fairly strong for the past decade. Both sectors have thrived in recent years. In 2002, wind power expanded when a green certificate system was introduced which led to a large growth of installations, reaching about 1 GW/year for 2006 to 2009. By early 2011, Italy's installed wind capacity was to rank third in Europe with an estimated 5.8 GW, although well behind the two countries with 20 GW: Germany (already ended its nuclear program) and Spain (proposing to end its program). The goal for Italy's wind capacity for 2020 is 12.68 GW, albeit the Italian Wind Energy Association believes improved transmission and simplified administration will see their objective closer to 16 GW.

Mike Tirone, "Italy Chooses Renewables Over Nuclear," Green Chip Stocks, June 16, 2011 [online]

[verified 4/17/14]

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