The companies that hold the Spanish nuclear fleet, Endesa, Iberdrola, Naturgy, EDP Spain and Nuclenor (owner of the Garoña plant, 50% owned by the first two) are scheduled to sign tomorrow with the National Radioactive Waste Company (Enresa) a binding document on the dismantling of said park. After the verbal agreement reached by the three big electric companies last month with the Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, for the staggered closure of the seven plants in operation, it was still pending to negotiate with Enresa the schedule and the total cost of the plan. The plants will close in order of seniority with an average life of 45.5 years.
The objective of the negotiation was to fine-tune a decommissioning calendar to avoid increasing (or not too much) the rate that utilities pay for the management of radioactive waste and the dismantling of those that Enresa occupies. At this time, this rate is 6.64 euros per MWh nuclear produced.
For a closure plan that will begin in 2027, with Almaraz I, and will end in September 2035, with the closure of Trilllo, it is proposed to raise the rate a maximum of 20%, up to 7.9 euros / MWh, according to sources familiar with the process. Something that companies consider reasonable taking into account that closing plants at 40 years of life would have required almost double.
At the moment, Enresa's funds add up to something more than 5,000 million of euros (4,350 million corresponding to the aforementioned rate and almost 600 million collected in electric tolls, 0.001%). It is estimated that this amount should reach 14,000 million to cover the costs of dismantling and waste management, including the construction of a Centralized Temporary Warehouse (ATC) of waste and those already dismantled.
Taking into account that the atomic park annually produces almost 60,000 GWh (22% of the total electricity generated), the current collection of Enresa is almost 400 million euros, which will become 534 million with the proposed increase. Up to nine years in which the first group of Almaraz would close, these revenues would be maintained and from 2030, the year in which the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) plans to shelve four installations (more than 4,000 MW), the funds to be collected would be less than half.
The six-party negotiation closed last week and, in fact, the memorandum was ready for signature on Friday. The delay was due to discrepancies between Endesa and the Iberdrola / Naturgy block, according to sources in the sector. The first wants to avoid the trap that its rivals, with whom it shares several facilities, ask for the authorizations to extend the exploitation by putting insurmountable conditions that put the plan at risk.
In addition, it raises some nuances: that the closure calendar serves primarily as a fit for the new National Plan for Radioactive Waste, which is prepared by Enresa, and that it is specified that nuclear power plants "will never be closed before the dates set by the calendar" , but not necessarily in those dates.
In this way, the electric that runs José Bogas It asks for some flexibility to avoid problems in the electrical system. In this regard, he argues, in line with the Government, that in order to address the nuclear power outage, "we must take into account the technical and economic capacity of the system for the simultaneous dismantling of several plants."
Regarding the validity of the agreement between Enresa and the large companies in the sector, the opinions are divided. There are those who consider that it will be a dead letter if another future government decides to invalidate it and who, on the contrary, thinks that by keeping the mark of the incumbents it will be difficult not to respect it. After all, the power companies have the decision to request or not the extension of exploitation of the plants.
In addition, in view of the discrepancies between them (Endesa, is in favor of functioning beyond 40 years, while Iberdrola and Naturgy prefer their closure at that age, but are obliged to make decisions unanimously in the plants they share) , the agreement is "a good inheritance for any Government, which would do badly to invalidate it", they point out in the sector.
If a pro-nuclear government comes out of the polls, you can always argue that the closure plan is long-term: after the stoppage of the two groups of Almaraz (in 2027 and 2028), those of Ascó I and Cofrentes will be produced and, already in the decade of the 30, those of Ascó II, Vandellós II and Trillo. If, on the other hand, it is an anti-nuclear executive, it will not have a free hand to advance the blackout because the Enresa funds would be insufficient for a block dismantling. In addition, the electrical system would suffer, because the accelerated closures of the coal plants would be added to a technology that covers a 22% of the demand.
At the moment, the owners of Almaraz I (the three large electric companies) must request before March 31 the extension of its operation, in this case, and if the calendar is respected, until 2027. A decision that is expected to be adopted at the assembly of partners that is scheduled for the next day 12. It has been the urgency to make a decision on the Central Caceres that has forced the agreements between the companies, the Ministry and Enresa.
The agreement between the three big electricity companies and the minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, and the one of those, EDP and Nuclenor (owner of the Garoña plant, which has not yet started its dismantling) with Enresa has a weak point, according to business sources. Accepted the calendar to close the plants beyond the 40 years and more here of the 50 (an average of 45.5 years) and that the rate of waste does not rise more than 20% remains the mystery of the investments that the Council of Nuclear Safety (CSN) could impose on the power stations after 40.
The decision of the Government of Pedro Sanchez to renew by decree the CSN, after the refusal of the Popular Party to agree on the replacement of four of the five directors who have fulfilled their mandate, could be considered the icing to complete the plan to close the nuclear . The PSOE will have a majority, three representatives, against one of Podemos and the PP member with the current mandate. The new council will be constituted next day 18.
Security. However, given that the role of the CSN is to ensure the safety of power stations, the political color of its directors will be of little use if the technicians impose improvements on the facilities to preserve it. Iberdrola and Naturgy do not want to hear about new investments in plants that amortize accounting at 40 years, compared to 50 at Endesa.