Germany Is Holding Up Italy’s Push for G-7 to Back Nuclear Power

(Bloomberg) -- Italy and Germany have clashed over whether Group of Seven nations should include a reference to nuclear power as part of the green transition at an upcoming summit of energy ministers, according to people familiar with the matter.

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In preliminary, bilateral talks, Germany has strongly pushed back against introducing such wording in the final communique after the G-7 gathering, the people said, requesting anonymity discussing private negotiations. It’s something that Italy, which holds the G-7 presidency this year, has pushed for, according to the people.

Ministers are set to meet this weekend in Turin, with a final communique expected early next week. It will be difficult to find a compromise given Germany’s opposition to nuclear even when used to reach clean energy goals, one of the people said. The country retired its remaining reactors last year and has previously clashed with France over the issue.

A spokesperson for Germany’s Economic Affairs and Climate Action Ministry said the country’s position on nuclear energy is “well known,” but declined to comment on the preliminary G-7 negotiations. Italy’s Energy Ministry also declined to comment.

The latest dispute highlights the ongoing tensions as countries try to redesign their energy markets after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Italy’s energy minister, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, has publicly signaled a renewed backing for nuclear power, saying this should be done gradually.

Italy currently doesn’t have any active nuclear power generators, but Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni wants to restart nuclear plants as part of the country’s decarbonization. Italians rejected the use of nuclear energy in a 2011 referendum, shortly after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, but energy security concerns since the war in Ukraine have renewed interest in the topic.

Another person with knowledge of Berlin’s thinking said it was up to individual governments to decide on which energy mixes to use, and that it would be up to Rome when it came to reactors in Italy. This, however, should not automatically lead to broad, supportive language from the G-7 as this could be used to lobby bodies like the European Investment Bank for loans or funding, the person added.

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