January 17, 2021

Almaraz partners delay tomorrow the negotiations on the future of nuclear | Economy

Almaraz partners delay tomorrow the negotiations on the future of nuclear | Economy

The new chapter to determine the renewal of the operation of the Almaraz nuclear power plant, scheduled for this afternoon, is postponed tomorrow morning. Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy have preferred to outline their positions more in the negotiations with the aim of reaching the assembly with the most consensual position possible. In this change of attitude the mediation of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, which has sought to collaborate to unclog the stumbling block, has had enough to do. Being an assembly of common interest, any agreement must be taken unanimously.

In the opinion of the participants, the postponement is a good sign to reach an agreement, which expires on March 31, and can extend the life of the two reactors of the plant until 2027 and 2028, respectively, as stated in the protocol signed before the National Waste Company (Enresa) last week.

Until this afternoon the positions started with the announcement of Iberdrola (53% of the power station) and Naturgy (11%) that they will not cede their stake in the plant to Endesa (36%) for free to operate alone, such as had suggested their representatives. However, they also put on the table their intention to be flexible in the approaches.

Before that, the CEO of Endesa, José Bogas, said that "all possibilities are open." After participating in a conference organized by Deloitte on the urban energy transition, Bogas said that "basically" all operators "are committed" to this protocol, so he trusts that a "reasonable" agreement will be reached before of the deadline.

Asked if it would be profitable for the company to retain sole control of the plant, in the event that the other agents ceded their rights, Bogas has confessed that "they will have to study it". However, he has said that he does not believe that this assignment is a "feasible" situation in the future. "It is not desire of any of the three companies," he added.

So far the differences have focused on investment. Endesa refused to sign last week, considering that the other two partners wanted to impose conditions that were not contemplated in the protocol. Specifically, they proposed not to make more investments than the appellants. According to Iberdrola and Naturgy what they propose is to invest 400 million euros with a gap of 15% up or down, which is what the plan of the nuclear power plant. In this regard, Bogas has stressed that he is willing to sit down with the Government.

In Endesa's opinion, this meant distorting the protocol, since if unexpected investments are required along the way, it will be necessary to make a decision. Endesa has always maintained that the investments must be decided by the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) and not the owners, as its partners in the plant say. Sources of the other companies attribute it to Endesa wants to extend life beyond what was agreed and that is why it asks to cede the management.

The three companies signed a protocol last week to extend the useful life of the two harvesters of the nuclear power plant, 7.4 and 8.2 years, respectively. Endesa defended to extend the useful life of the nuclear ones until the 50 years, against the 40 years that Iberdrola and Naturgy proposed; but in the end everyone considered the protocol reached as a "good agreement".

The discrepancies were repeated in the Vandellós II plant, where Endesa (72%) and Iberdrola (28%) are partners, although in the case of this plant the situation is not as urgent as in Almaraz, since it would be the penultimate, before just from Trillo, in closing according to the calendar, back in 2035.

The protocol includes a closure calendar for the Spanish nuclear park, contemplating the ordered and staggered closures of the current seven reactors from 2027 (Almaraz) to 2035 (Trillo). In such a way that, after Almaraz, it would be the turn of Ascó I (2029) and Cofrentes (2030). In 2033 Ascó II would be closed and, in 2035, Vandellós and Trillo. At this rate, the useful life of the plants will be at an average of 45-46 years.


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