Italy dumps nuclear; renewable energy stocks rise

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced Italy’s renewed support for renewable energies, including solar, following the finalization of the country’s new referendum, which will see a halt to any new nuclear power plants being built in the country.

According to Puopolo Geffers Iacobelli & Partners, an international law firm, 55.6 percent of the country’s voting population turned out to register its opinion on the nuclear matter – at least 50 percent is said to be needed to give the results legal clout. An overwhelming majority – 94.3 percent to 5.69 percent – voted against the government’s pans to revive Italy’s nuclear industry.

As a result, Italian renewable energy companies’ stocks markedly increased. For instance, Enel Green Power’s share price went up by 2.9 percent, while KR Energy rose by 14 percent, Kerself 11.6 percent and Pramac 11.5 percent. Ergycap’s stock price also went up by 12 percent.

Reportedly, before the referendum was held, Berlusconi stated, "We must (…) say goodbye to the possibility of nuclear power stations and we must strongly commit ourselves to renewable energy." He was said to have added, "the Italian energy sector will need to turn to renewable sources of energy in order to meet the country’s energy needs, as nuclear energy is no longer a viable alternative."

However, Italy will not be able to fully rid itself of nuclear: while the country will not produce its own nuclear energy, it will need to continue importing it from France as, said Puopolo Geffers Iacobelli & Partners, it is "incapable of meeting its own energy needs and renewable energy sources, as it stands, are unable to fill the gap."

Furthermore, in a statement, the law firm said, "During the intervening three months from the announcement of the referendum until today, there had been an unofficial moratorium of sorts on banks lending to renewable energy companies due to the regulatory uncertainty. However, at this point, as the referendum was decided in their favor, banks will surely be more likely to extend credit to market participants."

23 GW target

Following the introduction of Italy’s fourth Conto Energia, the target of 23 gigawatts (GW) of installed photovoltaic capacity by 2016 was set. Paul Gipe, industry analyst, said that this amount could generate over 30 TWh annually, thus meeting nearly 10 percent of the nation’s electricity supply. Wind is currently said to provide five percent.

He added that Italy’s new photovoltaic tariffs, while reduced, still remain among the highest in Europe "relative to its more intense insolation".