Greece announces nuclear moratorium

Just days after one of Europe's green paragons announced a return to nuclear power, a country with a patchy track record has put a moratorium on new nuclear and coal power plants.

If asked a month ago whether Sweden or Greece had vowed to back renewable energy while scrapping plans for polluting power sources, the sensible money would doubtless have been on the Scandinavian state.

But in the topsy-turvy world of recession and uncertainties over energy security, it appears anything can happen.

Last week Sweden said it plans to lift a 30 year ban on nuclear plants, while widening its portfolio of renewable energy to encompass technologies other than hydro.

Meanwhile on the other side of Europe, environmental campaigners are claiming victory after Greek development minister Kostis Hatzidakis ruled out future investment in nuclear and, perhaps more importantly, coal-fired power plants.

WWF Greece was part of a coalition that has been fighting a ‘no to coal’ campaign amid a will-they-won’t-they saga over government backing for coal plants and rumours that the ruling administration planned to introduce nuclear power to the country’s energy mix.

Demetres Karavellas, chief executive of the NGO, said: “We feel that our efforts to prove that Greece does not need coal power plants and nuclear energy have been justified. Today, we can be more optimistic that Greece might make the necessary shift towards a more sustainable and competitive green economy.”

The government change of stance on the issue was signalled by legislative changes to streamline and assist investment in renewable energy and by Mr Hatzidakis emerging from a cabinet meeting in late January to say “We want 2009 to be the year of renewable energy sources .”

Sam Bond

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