Environmental Protection

Italy Saying Goodbye to Nuclear?

Fallout from the March Fukushima nuclear plant leak reached into Italian government policy, as it now appears likely there will not be a renewed thrust toward the controversial power source anytime soon.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi was direct when he said, "We must probably say goodbye to the possibility of nuclear power stations and we must strongly commit ourselves to renewable energy."

The Fukushima tragedy may signal the tipping point of worldwide nuclear power construction. Dating back to the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown in the U.S. and the Russian Chernobyl disaster of 1986, nuclear energy has been noted primarily for its waste storage issues, expense, and potential for disaster, rather than any overriding benefits. Added to the 2010 BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, fossil and nuclear fuels face an uncertain future.

Berlusconi’s statement, coupled with the Pew Environmental Group Report from March 29th should provide a strong measure of comfort to investors in Italy and around the world who have been considering green technology strategies with their portfolios. Pew'’s research indicates that in 2010, world investment in the clean energy sector increased to $243 billion, representing a 30-percent growth rate over the previous year.

One green tech multinational to keep an eye on is Polaris Energy, a private equity company based in Luxembourg. Polaris is now focusing its efforts on the acquisition of fully operational, ground-based solar power plants due to the phasing out of Italian government incentives for new construction. The company will soon target rooftop solar, as there is no such expiration of incentives for smaller projects that typically are installed on the roof of a business or home.

It would appear the questions surrounding green energy are more related to "when" than "if" with respect to their viability and potential for profit. Polaris projects nearly 20-percent return on investment given recent trends. Firmly established in Italy, the private equity company is moving forward with plans to commence operations in the United States and China yet this year.

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