Enel, EDF Form Joint Venture to Build Four EPRs in Italy

Italy’s Enel and Electricité de France (EDF) on Monday sealed a €16 billion deal to jointly develop feasibility studies for the construction of at least four advanced third-generation EPR units in Italy—a country that recently reversed a 21-year-old ban on nuclear power.

The finalized deal follows an agreement between the two companies this February during the Franco-Italian summit in Rome. It is also is the first substantial step toward the implementation of nuclear projects in Italy that follows the approval of the Italian government’s law decree earlier this July.

Enel and EDF will each hold a 50% stake in the joint venture, and the company, “Sviluppo Nucleare Italia,” will be headquartered in Rome. Once the studies have been completed and the necessary investment decision made, individual companies will be instituted to build, own, and operate each EPR power plant.

Italy banned nuclear generating facilities in a 1987 referendum after the Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union and deactivated all of its reactors. In May last year, it announced it would resume building nuclear plants. The country now has its sights on building between 8 and 10 reactors, with the aim of having them supply a quarter of Italy’s power needs by 2030.

Enel CEO Fulvio Conti said the venture “lays the ground for a concrete come back of the nuclear [industry] in Italy.” He said that Enel has rebuilt its nuclear skills and expertise through years of international operations, and that it was “now ready to take the lead of the Italian nuclear programme in co-operation with EDF.”
EDF is heading construction of its flagship EPR reactor in Flamanville, in northern France. That project has been said to be running late and suffering from skyrocketing costs—much as with construction of the world’s first EPR reactor by AREVA at Olkiluoto in Finland, which is already running three years behind schedule due to a multitude of factors, including quality control issues.

In June this year, EDF insisted, however, that the Flamanville 3 reactor was “on time and on budget.” The €4 billion reactor is due to start up in 2012.
The creation of Sviluppo Nucleare Italia marks a first, substantial step toward the implementation of nuclear projects in Italy and followed the approval of the Law Decree on July 9, 2009, thus paving the way to the development of nuclear projects in Italy.

Sources: Enel, EDF, POWERnews

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