After the Chernobyl accident, Italy passed a referendum to halt new nuclear power plant construction and to shut down their existing plants. As a result of that decision and the fact that Italy has little coal, it now generates 75% of its internally generated electricity from oil or natural gas. This dependence has given Italy the highest electricity prices in Europe and has severely damaged its ability to compete in certain energy intensive manufacturing industries.
Its industrialists and utility company officials are openly talking about the need to begin building a new generation of nuclear power plants; though some sources have indicated that it would be quicker to restart the previously shut down plants, the people quoted in Planet Ark’s story titled Italy Experts Urge Nuclear Relaunch after Gas Crunch believe that would be an expensive option. The plants have been shut down for a number of years and would require significant upgrades and repairs.
If it were not for the fact that Italy has access to a large quantity of imported nuclear electricity from France, its prices would be even higher.
As all nations are going to soon find out, however, it is going to be a challenge to restart the nuclear power construction industry. There simply are not enough people ready to participate, which will lead to labor costs that are higher than anticipated and schedules that are more difficult to meet because of the lack of key people.
The challenge is going to be a great financial benefit for those few people that are left in the field, and for those people who can read the writing on the wall clearly enough to begin preparing themselves for the excellent jobs that are going to become available as plant construction slowly begins to gather momentum.