“I’m not going out of the script,” the president said. Nuclear Forum, Ignacio Araluce. He was quiet or almost and did not give a clear answer at a press conference held a few weeks ago where there were questions about the closing schedule of all meetings. nuclear power plants in spain and if there is a desire in the industry to re-start the discussion on useful life extension. “We have a shutdown plan agreed with the government and we’re working on that basis.”
In 2019, the government agreed with major electricity companies on a program to phase out all Spanish power plants that would result in a total nuclear cut in the country. deal with Endesa, iberdrola, naturalness and EDP It is considering the gradual closure of power plants between 2027 and 2035. “We have an agreement and we’re sticking to it for now,” said the chairman of the Nuclear Forum, an employers’ association that brings together the industry’s major electricity companies. owns nuclear power plants and dozens of companies linked to the atomic industry.
Nuclear power plants have so far avoided hand-to-hand combat with the government, but they remember that it is technically possible to expand the operation of the plants over the long term, as is already permitted in other countries. The manager is adamant in his position that the discussion about whether to adhere to the agreed closing schedule and to bet more on nuclear power in Spain in the midst of the energy price crisis is artificial because no company has shown any real interest in making new investments in this nuclear power. energy type.
The government has just started the process of updating the General Radioactive Waste Plan, the long-term roadmap for how waste will be managed, how to dismantle nuclear power plants and how much it will cost. And the new plan is based on the fact that all power plants will be phased out between 2027 and 2035, when a definitive nuclear shutdown is expected in the country.
From the Ministry of Ecological Transition, led by the vice-president Theresa Rivera A phased shutdown scenario is seen with “clearly defined” and “no expectation of change”, and it is insisted that no company has shown any interest in making major new investments to extend the life of existing facilities and far less for new ones. those. facilities.
In his meeting with analysts on the occasion of the presentation of the quarterly results, Ignacio Sánchez Galán, president of Iberdrola, underlined that whether to give up nuclear power plants is a political decision for each country and did not confront the Spaniards. strategy to start shutting down its reactors in the same decade. Yes, he pointed out that Spanish nuclear power plants are “ready to work as long as necessary”. But he cautioned that this would “require more investment and costs to be compensated for.”
From the electricity sector, it is justified that companies are not openly fighting the nuclear power outage right now. current conditions force them to prioritize pressure on gas price ceiling reduce electricity due to the disruption it will create in the electricity market, and Against the impact of other measures currently being implemented or being prepared by the Executive Board (Mandatory auction of electricity, upper limit of 67 Euros per MWh of electricity contracts, National Fund for the Sustainability of the future Electric System, reduction of revenues of electricity companies due to non-emitted CO2…).
Offensive from politics
However, in the midst of the energy crisis, due to electricity and gas prices reaching their maximum levels and Russia’s military occupation of Ukraine and its impact on security of supply, the energy independence of the subjugated countries and the political parties, opposition and major industry on the closing schedule set in Spain began to put pressure on the need to restart the discussion.
The Congress of Deputies rejected up to three motions in recent weeks (from PP, Vox and Ciudadanos) The government has been asked to extend power plant shutdowns as a way to strengthen the country’s energy sovereignty. The aim of the trio of resolutions by the three parties was to extend the lifespan of power plants beyond what is currently planned and strengthen energy autonomy as opposed to dependence on gas by delaying nuclear blackout beyond 2035. The far-right party’s resolution went even further and even proposed repealing emission reduction targets and legislation against climate change.
The new leadership of Antonio Núñez Feijóo’s People’s Party also turned on the tap and showed his determination to rekindle the nuclear power outage debate. The economic plan, devised by PP and sent to Head of Government Pedro Sánchez, includes a proposal to “extend the useful life of reactors, as our European neighbors are doing.”
Employer wants to restart discussion
Pressure to restart the debate over the nuclear shutdown in Spain also came from business associations. This CEOE President Antonio Garamendi, While in Spain he openly criticizes the problems of energy planning, referring to the closure of nuclear and coal power plants, plans are being reviewed in other European countries.
Major Spanish industry has also demanded to rethink the nuclear cut as part of measures to combat high electricity and gas prices. Employers’ associations Anfac (automotive), AOP (oil and refining), Aspapel (paper), Feique (chemistry and pharmacy), Fiab (food and beverage), Oficemen (cement) and Unesid (steel) made a joint statement. Request a revision of the schedule for the shutdown of nuclear power plants in Spain.
“It is necessary to restart the debate on the future of electricity generation from nuclear power,” said major industrial employers, who advocate the role that power plants can play in limiting energy prices. “Experience of recent months has demonstrated the relevance of its contribution to the mix, regardless of fluctuations in basic energy, reliable, decarbonised and international energy markets.”
The Nuclear Forum warns that the prospect of reconsidering the reactor shutdown schedule cannot wait too long, especially as deadlines are not unlimited and the investments that companies must undertake in the maintenance of power plants are planned according to expected conditions. Operation time. “If you want to restart the discussion, you can’t wait too long; will need to be done in a year or two at most,” warns Ignacio Araluce, president of the nuclear employers association.
It complains openly from the nuclear sector about the enormous tax burden its operation supports and the difficulties in continuing to operate profitably, and insists that the electricity companies sell all their output at prices much lower than the prices set by the wholesale market. Between 60 and 67 Euros per MWh). Therefore, although it is emphasized that technically the power plants can continue to operate after the planned closing date, they warn that nuclear power plants “cannot continue to operate if they operate in a harmful way”.
The government’s plans are for the seven currently operational Spanish reactors, which were agreed with major power companies in 2019, to shut down Almaraz I in 2027, Almaraz II in 2028, Ascó I in 2030, and Cofrentes. is to continue its gradual and gradual closure. In 2030, Ascó II in 2032, Vandellós II in 2035 and again in 2035 Trillo.
The government started the process to update the very long-term roadmap on what to do with radioactive waste, how to dismantle the facilities and how much it would cost to manage both missions. And in this roadmap, what to do with the waste is left open and proposes to deploy a single nuclear cemetery or seven (one at each nuclear power plant) in Spain, but the Government leaves the shutdown schedule out of any discussion.