The Italian senate has voted 154-1 to overturn a 22-year-old prohibition on new nuclear power stations. Their decision is line with those taken recently in several other European countries as a means of reducing their carbon dioxide emissions.
Sweden has lifed its 29-year ban on new nuclear plants, Spain has begun to reverse its 25-year old policy of phasing out nuclear power. The Netherlands abandoned its policy of phasing out nuclear power in 2005. Germany’s coalition government is continuing the policy, introduced in 2001, of phasing out nuclear power by 2020 but Chancellor Angela Merkel has promised to abandon the policy if she wins elections in September. The UK government has reaffirmed that atomic power is central to the strategy for building a low-carbon Britain and is considering plans to build the first new reactors in over 20 years.
France, which gets 77% of its electricity from 59 nuclear power plants, is buillding an improved third generation "European Pressurised Reactor" in Normandy. The project is intended to be a prototype for up to forty power plants. Italy is already undertaking a feasibility study to construct four of the plants.
Europe currently has a total of 165 nuclear rectors with six under construction and several more planned.