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Italians Vote No Nuclear Power, Pave Way For Renewable Energy Future

Solar panels in Italy

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi summarized his country’s unified decision of abandoning nuclear power in a few words – “We must probably say goodbye to the possibility of nuclear power stations and we must strongly commit ourselves to renewable energy.”- an overwhelming victory for Italy’s antinuclear movement, and for renewable energy development.

Italy was profoundly dependent on nuclear power generation for its energy needs, until 1987, when it banned nuclear reactors after the Chernobyl accident. However, the Italian prime minister hoped for reviving nuclear reactors, with 25% energy to potentially be generated from the nuclear plants.

Ninety percent of voters responded against the revival, the recent Fukushima nuclear accident no doubt being the deciding factor. Shares of Italian renewable energy companies rose markedly after the decision.

Companies such as Etrion and Phoenix Solar witnessed a rise in their share prices, as they are on their way to deploying 2.6 MWs of photovoltaics for the country.

Meanwhile, foreign investors such as 9Ren from Spain have opened their renewable doors, supplying 25 MW of electricity from 16 photovoltaic plants to efficiently meet the heavy requirements of over 12,000 Italian households annually.

Gehrlicher Solar from Germany is all set to install 20 MW of photovoltaics by August in Italy. The company expects to cross a double-digit million figure, with the inauguration of this solar panel plant.

The future of Italian renewable resources companies was overshadowed by the potential nuclear energy revival. Now they have cause for new vigor. With Italy’s fourth Conto Energia signed into law, the 200 KW Photovoltaic market is expected to grow rapidly in the second half of 2011, with a steep climb in 2012.

The echoing “no” to nuclear energy may also have intensified Italy’s mounting energy security problem, due to its reliance on imported fossil fuels. However, Italy is not alone in fighting against nuclear aspirations. Shortly after the Fukushima accident, Switzerland suspended its nuclear reactors program, and Germany has stepped up its nuclear phaseout program, promising to be nuclear-free by 2022.

Some countries, through necessity, are certainly starting to push further beyond nuclear and fossil fuel boundaries to the environment-friendly renewable resources of wind, water and sunlight, among others.

It is obvious that the Fukushima accident has reminded many people of the potential pitfalls of nuclear power. It is hoped that harnessing enough solar, hydro, tidal wind, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy, nations will be able to help provide a safer environment for future generations, and ample power.

Image CC licensed by muenzer: Rooftop solar panels in Italy

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