Environmental policiesPolicy and Affairs

Spain has decided: nuclear exit by 2035

Final ok for the nuclear exit plan under discussion in 2019

– Spain confirms the exit from nuclear power. The expiry date is 2035 but decommissioning will start already in 2027. Today, the five nuclear power plants operating in the country generate about 20% of Spanish electricity (almost 8% of European nuclear energy). But the Sanchez government, back in office in late November, wants to focus on renewables.

Spain has been discussing the end of nuclear power for many years. The plan for the exit from the atom dates back to 2019 when the then government reached a preliminary agreement with the three companies that manage the country’s nuclear plants, Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy. Agreement challenged by the parties in subsequent years, especially by the popular.

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On 27 December, however, the Sanchez executive blocked the path to exit from nuclear power within 12 years, approving in the Council of Ministers the 7th Plan General de Residuos Radiactivos (PGRR)the plan for the management and disposal of radioactive waste resulting mainly from the operation of nuclear installations.

What does Spain expect to exit nuclear power?

The plan wastes all the possibilities of building new temporary storage facilities or a single permanent national repository for radioactive waste. It stipulates that each decommissioning plant will continue to house – temporarily – the spent nuclear fuel, which is classified as the most dangerous. Both the 2 already in progress (José Cabrera and Santa Maria de Garoña) and the 5 plants still in operation today (Almaraz, Trillo, Cofrente, Ascò and Vandellòs).

Temporarily, yes, but actually for decades. Because the same Council of Ministers of 27 December decreed the definitive stop to the works for the construction of the permanent deposit, which would have arisen in Villar de Cañas, and established that Spain would equip itself with a unique place for the storage of radioactive waste by the 70s of this century, that is, in 50 years. And that it will be a deep geological deposit.

In all, the exit from nuclear power will cost Spain EUR 20.22 billion. About 2 billion more than it would have cost with the creation of a single deposit instead of the 7 decentralized. Money that will come from a fund fed by plant operators. The expenses both for the management and the dismantling will be paid by the enterprises through the “fund for the financing of the activities of the PGRR, managed from Enresa and endowed with the financial contributions of the owners of the nuclear plants“, clarified the Spanish government, stressing respect for the “polluter pays” principle.

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