On the 140th anniversary of the start of its activities, Edison has presented a development strategy to 2030 and its ambitions to 2040 – “Edison 140 years – Towards 2030-2040”. The portfolio of activities to 2030 will see renewable electricity generation represent over 45% of the group's profitability, services to industrial and domestic customers and the public administration will contribute approximately a quarter, gas and thermoelectric production will represent 30%. Looking to 2040, Edison says it “has the ambition of developing new nuclear power if the conditions are created for his return to Italy”.

“140 years ago we started the process of electrification of the country and inaugurated a new era. Today we are a leader in energy transition", said Edison CEO Nicola Monti. “For this reason, Edison continues to invest in innovation to create new Italian and European supply chains in the ecological transition, ensuring that the transition to the new era is an opportunity for progress for everyone."

Edison envisages investments of €10bn ($10.6bn) between 2023 and 2030, with 85% being in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) of the United Nations Organisation .The Group aims to double EBITDA by €2-2.2bn in 2030 compared with €1.1bn in 2022. Of the €10bn in investments expected, approximately half will focus on the development of renewable sources, approximately €1bn on flexibility systems and approximately €2.5bn on energy services for the decarbonisation of consumption, the remaining share, equal to €1-2bn, will be allocated to gas activities and the growth of the customer portfolio.

Edison says it intends to maintain its key role in Italy’s energy security and autonomy with a flexible and increasingly decarbonised gas portfolio, thanks to green gases such as hydrogen and biomethane. Edison's goal for 2030 is to continue to satisfy 20% of Italian gas demand with green gas which will represent approximately 5% of the portfolio .

In the electricity production sector, Edison aims to reach 2030 with:

5 GW of renewable capacity installed between wind, photovoltaic and hydroelectric compared with the current 2 GW;at least two new highly efficient and flexible latest generation thermoelectric plants with a total installed power of approximately 2 GW to compensate for the intermittency of renewable sources;500 MW of storage systems including pumping systems and batteries, to complement renewable production and to give stability to the grid;at least one approved CO2 capture system.

Edison aims to reduce its CO2 emission factor from 293 grams per kWh in 2022 to 190 grams per kWh in 2030 and up to 50 grams per kWh in 2040, reducing absolute emissions in parallel.

Looking to 2040, Edison believes nuclear energy can play a key role in achieving European Union carbon neutrality targets, giving stability to the electricity system and compensating for the intermittency of renewable sources. It says nuclear energy is one of the generation sources with the lowest CO2 emissions, ensuring reduced land consumption compared with installed electrical power and allowing for optimal programmability of production. It adds: “Furthermore, the new small modular reactor (SMR) technology can be used to produce electrical and thermal energy, responding in a versatile way to the needs of energy-intensive districts and territories.”

Edison says it has the ambition of developing new nuclear power if the conditions are created for its return to Italy. “In particular, Edison aims to launch two nuclear plants of 340 MW each with SMR technology between 2030 and 2040, enhancing in particular the distinctive technological skills of shareholder EDF.

In March, EDF, Edison, Ansaldo Energia and Ansaldo Nucleare signed a Letter of Intent for new nuclear development. The aim was to leverage the specific expertise of the companies to assess potential industrial cooperation for the development of nuclear power in Europe, specifically in the field of SMRs.

The companies envisaged collaborating on the development of new nuclear power in Europe as well as promoting its deployment, in Italy. The aim of the agreement was to use the expertise of the Italian nuclear power sector, headed by Ansaldo Nucleare to support development of EDF Group's new nuclear projects.

The signatories undertook to explore potential industrial cooperation, drawing on their respective skills:

Ansaldo Energia Group as a developer of engineering components and service provider for the energy and nuclear industry;EDF as the world's largest nuclear energy producer, involved in new nuclear projects based on its portfolio of technologies, including the Nuward SMR and larger EPR reactors; andEdison as a leading Italian energy player, fully engaged in Italy's energy transition.

Ansaldo Energia Group, EDF and Edison also agreed to assess the potential for the development and implementation of new nuclear power in Italy, given the growing need for energy security and independence of the Italian electricity system.

EDF’s Nuward is a 340MWe SMR with two independent reactors (170MWe each) housed in a single nuclear building, optimising the shared use of equipment. Nuward says it is “a fully integrated Generation III+ pressurised water reactor (PWR), meeting the highest safety standards”. It is designed to support load following and adapted also for non-electric usages. It will have an operation cycle of up to 24 months and a design life of 60 years with fully digital I&C. The core will hold 76 fuel assemblies. The nuclear island building is semi-buried with a fully integrated reactor pressure vessel (RPV), and passive safety cooling system. The NUWARD SMR is being reviewed jointly by three safety authorities: France’s ASN), the Czech Republic’s SUJB) and Finland’s STUK.

Italy was a leading nuclear power-producing country in the 1960s but chose to phase out all nuclear plants following a referendum in following the Chernobyl disaster. It closed its last two operating plants, Caorso and Trino Vercellese, in 1990. The fourth Berlusconi government attempted to launch a new nuclear power programme but that was also rejected by a referendum in 2011, shortly after the Fukushima accident.

Italy’s Lower House of Parliament has passed two motions aimed at reversing Italy’s earlier decision to abandon nuclear energy. The text commits the government to “consider including nuclear power as an alternative and clean source of energy production in the national energy mix” so as to “accelerate Italy’s decarbonisation process.”

Image: Cutaway of EDF's Nuward SMR (courtesy of EDF)

Date: Wednesday, 11 October 2023
Original article: neimagazine.com/news/newsedison-looks-to-revive-nuclear-power-in-italy-11206817