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Power Hardware

Italy Votes To Abandon Nuclear Power 848

ElementOfDestruction writes "Italy has joined Germany in halting the production of energy from atomic power generation. This differs from Germany in that the Italian decision was made by a public vote, rather than a government mandated shutdown. 57% of Italian Households voted in this public measure. While democracy should trump all, is it wise to hold majority opinion so high that it slows down progress?"
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Italy Votes To Abandon Nuclear Power

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  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @10:31AM (#36435582)
    We did it de facto instead of de jure but the fact that we haven't built any new plants in 30 years means we have ultimately also given up on nuclear. The politicians caved to public fear and so made the process of permitting a plant to be so expensive as to make it economically impossible to continue to build new facilities. We will ultimately shut down our current plants and shift that generation to something else, it will just take longer.
  • Misleading summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by mischi_amnesiac ( 837989 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @10:33AM (#36435612) Homepage
    The summary is a bit misleading. In 1987 after the Tschernobyl disaster Italy had a public vote to abandon nuclear energy. The last reactor was shut down in 1990. This was only a vote against a re-entry into nuclear power, something Berlusconi was pushing forward.
  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @10:35AM (#36435658) Homepage

    Italy has never had any running nuclear reactors anyway (there is one not fully built though and being an investition ruin since some decades). This vote is just a confirmation of the status quo. But don't let that interfere with your opinion.

  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @11:03AM (#36436134)
    In a real way, fear of nuclear power caused Fukushima. Not true at all, had they located their backup power high in the air like the Gen II plants I've worked, everything would have been fine. Laziness, greed, incompetence caused Fukushima. And, were they trained properly by the classic nuclear engineering texts such as I have on my shelf, they should recognized the signs of melting fueld, and have just let the fuel melt into containment system without pouring in water. Well known there comes a point when hot fuel cracks the water and causes explosion that can burst containment in that type of reactor.
  • stupid (Score:4, Informative)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @11:03AM (#36436144)

    I can imagine people think they're being green when voting down nuclear power, but actually their vote is causing much worse environmental impact and global warming by the necessary increase in conventional non-nuclear energy production.

  • by gadget junkie ( 618542 ) <> on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @11:08AM (#36436244) Journal

    Where will you get power now? France's nuclear plants?

    we already do. I live in Turin, next to france, and we DO import nuclear energy from france: the total represents about 7% of energy consumption []; the dominant energy producer, ENEL, operates nuclear plants in Spain and Slovenia (Link []), and France is Upwind from us, so I would laugh my head off if it wasn't sad.

    Italy operates a few small research reactors, and part of the energy bill that I receive bimonthly has an Item called "sovrapprezzo termico", i.e. the part that I pay ENEL to compensate it for the added costs of dismantling the reactors that were stopped after Chernobil, plus the lost income due to fossil fuel use. But hey, it's democracy, honey.

    For all it's worth, two other referenda were worse still; we voted out compensation for capital expenses incurred in mantaining and building water infrastructure, which call the question of who will put up the money required to reduce the water losses that the acqueduct has (about 20~25% here).
    Just the other day, my wife came in while I was brushing my teeth and closed the water tap, saying "the TV said to save water!"; I said "good Idea, let's reach the same level of eccellence of the water company: let's leave the tap open overnight."

    coming back to Nuclear energy: the incumbent italian operator gets a sizable part of its energy production from fully or partly owned and operated nuclear plants, but all of them are abroad, and all except one (in slovenia) are too far to make exporting energy to Italy viable. To add insult to injury, many people said "we italians are incapable to guarantee the orderly functioning of nuclear plants". Maybe the spanish public ain't so picky.

    Now i want to see how they will sell to the public on building coke or gas turbine plants for baseline operations; as most Slashdotters know, renewables are uneconomic unless someone pays the piper.

  • Re:Alas, Rev. Bayes (Score:5, Informative)

    by SilentStaid ( 1474575 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @11:13AM (#36436324)
    Are you challenging an AC to make a concession in an argument which he has already determined his beliefs in? Well sir, welcome to Slashdot.

    And while I totally agree with the sentiment - I'd say that it is hard to consider Keith objectively when he has always been against fossil fuels at seemingly any costs (which he should be). So in the spirit of actually contributing something to the conversation:

    Risks from reactor accidents are estimated by the rapidly developing science of "probabilistic risk analysis" (PRA). A PRA must be done separately for each power plant (at a cost of $5 million) but we give typical results here: A fuel melt-down might be expected once in 20,000 years of reactor operation. In 2 out of 3 melt-downs there would be no deaths, in 1 out of 5 there would be over 1000 deaths, and in 1 out of 100,000 there would be 50,000 deaths. The average for all meltdowns would be 400 deaths. Since air pollution from coal burning is estimated to be causing 10,000 deaths per year, there would have to be 25 melt-downs each year for nuclear power to be as dangerous as coal burning.

    From: []

  • by Derek Pomery ( 2028 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @11:14AM (#36436338) []

    Also, some back of envelope calculations.

    A typical nuclear power plant generates a gigawatt of *CONSTANT* power.

    A 1.5 megawatt turbine (and keep in mind these things are gigantic) typically produces at around 20% of capacity, highly variable, but let's pretend we could store the power somehow or get enough of 'em to magically balance out.

    That means you'd need like 3333 turbines to replace a consistent nuclear output with an inconsistent power source. Turbines that would need constant maintenance. And this is for a traditional 1 gig nuclear power plant, not one of the new designs, or larger ones.

    How much land would that cover? About 77,000 acres, or 312 square kilometres. That's a square 18 kilometres on a side filled with them. Of course, wind power is not exactly environmentally neutral if you consider constructional, maintenance, and impact on bats, birds and weather patterns.

    And keep in mind, we need a lot more than just 1 or 2.

  • by Derek Pomery ( 2028 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @11:21AM (#36436476)

    Actually, googling, I might be wildly optimistic. I quote random google result.

    ""Contemporary wind projects are typically rated at 25 to 100 MW. A 25 MW project might have 60 to 70 turbines covering 1500 acres," says The EPA . Really, that's a little over 4 MW of *average* power from a total of about 65 windmills. (This was typical of early California wind turbines.)

    The 4 MW divided by 1500 acres is about 2.67 kW per acre. But an acre is 4047 square meters, so the power density works out to be about 0.7 watts per square meter. By comparison, direct sunlight averages 200 watts per square meter around the clock, around the year, around the US.

    Scale that up to 1000 MW (more or less standard for a serious power plant) by multiplying the number of windmills by 250. That's over 16,000 windmills on about 375,000 acres (585 square miles). "

    That has me underestimating by a factor of 5.

  • Re:Alas, Rev. Bayes (Score:4, Informative)

    by JWW ( 79176 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @12:40PM (#36437842)

    Maybe truth on the ballot might have helped a bit:

    A) Fix global warming

    B) Stop using nuclear power

    Please choose one.

  • Re:Alas, Rev. Bayes (Score:4, Informative)

    by uniquename72 ( 1169497 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @01:33PM (#36438564)

    US coal has not rendered any location on earth uninhabitable for future generations.

    5 seconds of googling later... []

  • by blind monkey 3 ( 773904 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @06:10PM (#36442922)

    What about pointing out that the Fukushima disaster was caused by building a reactor right on a coastline where tsunamis occasionally happen, and by being struck by both an earthquake and a tsunami at the same time?

    The meltdown (they have confirmed that three reactors have experienced a meltdown) has been caused by greed and cutting corners. They were warned 20 years ago that flooding of generators placed in a basement was the most likely cause of reactors overheating and should be moved to a more appropriate location, this was brought up by the Japanese nuclear authority in 2004 and again 2 years ago. Who is going to [] pay? []
    Nuclear can be safe, it's the implementation and enforcement of standards that is dangerous.

    There is a distinct (tongue-in-cheek) possibility that the Italian government might not be trusted to enforce the standards required. The Germans may feel the same way about their government. Is your government strong enough to stand up to multinational corporations?

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.