Speaking at the Energy Council, the new Minister of the Environment of the Meloni government also spoke of nuclear power
One of Meloni’s ministers already at his European debut. This is the newly appointed Minister of the Environment and Security – who is no longer called Energy Transition – Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, who spoke at the Energy Council in Luxembourg.
Energy is undoubtedly one of the hottest dossiers for the new executive. It is no coincidence that Meloni accepted the “condition” of his predecessor Draghi to be assisted in this arduous task by former minister Roberto Cingolani.
The goal, explained Pichetto, is to have an alternative benchmark to the TTF, Title Transfer Facility, the reference for the price of gas in Europe, and to define a “corridor” of fluctuation for the price of methane gas. But decisions may not arrive today (Wednesday 25, ed): “Let’s evaluate”, he says.
EU energy ministers will also seek to reach a general approach on the already revised directive on building energy performance, to reduce energy bills and decarbonise buildings by 2050, and will also discuss the Commission’s proposal of December 2021 concerning a new EU framework to decarbonise gas markets, promote hydrogen and reduce methane emissions.
What will the Meloni government do on nuclear power
But one of the passages that most left their mark on Pichetto’s words was the reference to nuclear power. “On nuclear power we are in favor of experimenting with the new generation to deal with the energy crisis,” said the minister, explaining that it is “in everyone’s interest to get rid of energy dependence”.
Pichetto assured that the Meloni government “will continue on the path traced by the Draghi executive also at European level”. But his position on nuclear energy is not a mystery, so much so that his appointment was immediately contested by many because, according to environmentalists, it would lead us to take steps backwards and not forward towards the fight against climate change.
What is “clean” nuclear power: advantages and disadvantages
In truth, the so-called clean nuclear power, to which the minister refers, could represent an epochal turning point. These are small generation IV nuclear reactors that absorb waste and waste from traditional power plants as a new type of fuel, which obviously no longer require digging to extract uranium from the soil, and effectively eliminate the chemical risk.
According to some experts, such as the founder of Newcleo Stefano Buono, who worked for many years at CERN in Geneva with the Nobel Prize in Physics Carlo Rubbia, nuclear energy will change the world. “It has enormous potential: it is a million times more concentrated than chemical. It is renewable, safe and clean. Not using it is a sad idea for humanity: it would mean continuing to extract material and create chemical waste, “he said in an interview with Repubblica last September.
Newcleo is based in London, a research and development center in Turin and a branch in France and plans to build three prototypes: the first reactor will be ready in 4 years and they are building it in the Enea center in Brasimone (Bo): not a nuclear reactor , but a tool for testing components, corrosion, control systems. Over the next 7 years, 2 nuclear reactors and 2 fuel factories capable of burning radioactive waste will arrive in France and England.
On the other hand, there are those, like CNR physicist Valerio Rossi Albertini, who argue that nuclear fission can never be cleaned.
In an interview with Adnkronos, Rossi Albertini explained that nuclear power always leaves behind a trail of nuclear waste that you do not know where to put in order to save them from the possibility that they may be dispersed, as has already happened. “Therefore, the definition of clean nuclear referring to nuclear fission, that is the traditional technique of producing energy from nuclear sources, is a term invented not by a nuclear physicist or engineer”.
“We speak of fourth generation nuclear power as if the third generation were operational and universally widespread, instead it is the third currently to be experimental. Subsequent generations are variants of the previous ones: the technology on which they are based is exactly the same, nuclear fission, that is, the fragmentation of nuclei of heavy and radioactive metals, such as uranium for example. And all of the generations, from the first to the phantom fourth, are based on this concept, ”he explains.
“The evolution simply concerns the method to make the most of the energy produced and to contain and prevent any failures with the consequences we know,” he remarks. So much so that, she warns, any accidents are “an impending danger, even if remote. But when a danger is so great, perhaps it would be appropriate to avoid even the remote possibility that it could occur ”.
The advantages of nuclear energy
But what are the advantages of nuclear energy? First of all, it is clean, zero-emission energy. It generates energy through fission, which is the process of splitting uranium atoms to produce energy. The heat released by fission is used to create steam, which in turn spins a turbine to generate electricity, without the harmful byproducts emitted from fossil fuels.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the United States avoided more than 471 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, the equivalent of removing 100 million cars from the road and more than all other clean energy sources. together.
It also keeps the air clean by removing thousands of tons of harmful air pollutants every year that contribute to acid rain, smog, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Furthermore, the land footprint of nuclear power is small: despite producing huge amounts of carbon-free energy, nuclear power produces more electricity on less land than any other source of clean air.
A typical 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plant needs just over 1.6 square km to function. Wind farms require 360 times more land area to produce the same amount of electricity, and solar photovoltaic systems require 75 times more space. Basically, as if we were lining up more than 3 million solar panels to produce the same amount of energy as a typical commercial reactor or more than 430 wind turbines.
Finally, nuclear energy has minimal waste: it is about 1 million times higher than that of other traditional energy sources and, for this reason, the amount of nuclear fuel used is not as large as one might think.
All used nuclear fuel produced by the US nuclear power industry over the past 60 years could be on a soccer field at a depth of less than 30 feet, experts say. Waste that can also be reprocessed and recycled.