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Italy Will Build First Nuclear Reactors in Decades With French Technology

France and Italy signed a series of agreements that will see Italy build its first atomic plants in decades with French technology.

“Our companies want to work hand in hand with Italy to develop the nuclear sector,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said today at a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Paris. French companies will work to train Italian engineers, he added.

The deals, signed in Paris at the annual French-Italian summit, make operational a plan from 2007 by Enel SpA and Electricite de France SA to build the first nuclear power plants in Italy since it shut down existing facilities in 1988 after voters rejected atomic power in a referendum.

“We have to convince citizens who live in areas where reactors will be built,” Berlusconi said, adding that there will be a “period of preparation of the Italian population.”

Sites haven’t been chosen for the atomic reactors yet, though supporters of the plan are already bracing for campaigns against them.

“The ‘Not in My Backyard’ syndrome is a major custom in Italy for many projects,” Enel Chief Executive Officer Fulvio Conti said. “We will have to make an effort on communication.”

EDF, Enel and Ansaldo Energia SpA signed a five-year agreement under which Ansaldo will supply equipment for the EPR plants in Italy, and possibly elsewhere, designed by Paris-based Areva SA, the companies said in a statement. Ansaldo is a unit of Italian engineering group Finmeccanica SpA.

Shut Reactors

Italy gets about 55 percent of its energy from coal and natural gas. The country plans to develop through 2025 about 13,000 megawatts of atomic power, the equivalent of eight EPRs, to cover a quarter of its demand, Francesco de Falco, chief executive officer of the EDF-Enel joint venture Sviluppo Nucleare Italia Srl set up for nuclear projects, said at a conference in Paris last month.

Work will start on the Italian EPRs in 2013, with the first scheduled to start operations as early as the end of 2018, Conti said today. Enel and EDF are “open” to other partners in developing each plant, which will mostly be self-financed, he added.

The venture currently intends to provide half of Italy’s overall nuclear power target and “would be happy having more,” he said. The deal signed today specifies EDF and Enel will be investors and architect engineers of the atomic plants responsible for management of the projects.

The Sviluppo Nucleare venture has said Enel will remain majority owner in each plant and EDF’s stake will he “higher” than any potential third party.

Areva signed an agreement with Ansaldo for the supply of components for the EPRs in Italy and others around the world, the Paris-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

Other agreements signed covered the training of nuclear engineers and the disposal of nuclear waste.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net

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