The countdown has already begun. The itinerary that the Government currently manages foresees the scheduled closure of the seven reactors housed in the five Spanish nuclear power plants in operation between 2027 and 2035. The first to end its activity will be Almaraz, in Cáceres, which will close its first reactor in November 2027, and the second just one year later, in October 2028.
The next on this list will be the Ascó I (Tarragona) and Cofrentes (Valencia) reactors, which will cease to be operational in 2030, and after them Ascó II will close, in 2032. The last two reactors that will go into inactivity will be those of Vandellós II and Trillo, both in 2035. However, the work that is necessary to carry out to execute the closure and dismantling of a nuclear power plant is not a piece of cake.
Shutdown usually must be planned at least three years in advance, and decommissioning cannot begin until another three years have elapsed from the time the reactor ceased activity because the fuel must be cooled in the pools of the central. From that moment the disassembly of the facilities can be extended for ten more years. This is the way things are now, but the gas crisis that has triggered the war in Ukraine may be a game changer.
Iberdrola and Endesa propose to review the closing date of the nuclear power plants
The Government’s strategy is being viewed favorably by some experts, such as Pedro Fresco, a deep connoisseur of energy markets and renewable energies who has served as General Director of Ecological Transition in the Generalitat Valenciana:
“The timetable for the nuclear blackout is not only realistic, but the Spanish government itself has managed to ensure that many of the owner companies, who wanted to close the nuclear power plants after forty years because they were not profitable, have agreed to extend the operation until forty-five years. five or forty-six years.”
However, other experts believe that this strategy is not adequate, especially in the current situation. Alfredo García, better known on Twitter for his alter ego @OperadorNuclearIt is one of them:
“I think it is a very electoralist strategy. The Socialist Party has spent many years incorporating into its electoral program the idea that when it comes to power it will close the nuclear power plants at the end of their design life, which is forty years. In the article I wrote for Xataka some time ago I explained that it is a myth.”
“Those forty years really define a minimum period in which you have to guarantee that the plant works correctly and safely to ensure the investment that has been made. It is not an expiration date. A plant cannot last thirty years because then it will not be It would fully pay for itself, but once it has reached forty years and has been safely maintained, and as long as the regulator ensures that it is running safely and cost-effectively, that plant can continue to operate for many more years.”
What Alfredo explains to us is interesting because it puts on the table the possibility of safely extend operational life of Spanish nuclear power plants beyond their design life. This is precisely what ANAV (Ascó-Vandellós II Nuclear Association) proposes, which is the company set up by Iberdrola and Endesa to manage the operation of the nuclear power plants located in Catalonia.
The conflict between the West and Russia that has led to the war in Ukraine has plunged the gas market into deep uncertainty that is causing large fluctuations in its price. In fact, consumers are witnessing the profound impact that this volatility is having on our gas bills. But what is most disturbing is that at the moment there is no solution on the horizon to this crisis. Not even long term.
ANAV is considering the possibility that the Ascó and Vandellós II plants extend their operational life beyond 2035
The Government’s strategy proposes partially compensating for the energy that will not be produced by the nuclear power plants that will cease to be operational resorting to combined cycle plants, but the unpredictable health of the gas market complicates this. And renewables will hardly be able to assume by themselves in such a short time the generation of all the electricity that nuclear will not produce.
This is the situation in which ANAV is considering the possibility that the Ascó and Vandellós II plants extend their operating life beyond 2035, which, as we have seen, is the year in which, according to the itinerary set by the Government , the last Spanish nuclear power plants will close. If we stick to the explanations of nuclear energy experts and keep in mind the energy scenario in which we find ourselves, it seems reasonable. In any case, the last word belongs to the Government.
Cover image: iStock
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