The four-party agreement announced on Monday between the Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, and the top executives of the three large electric companies (Endesa, Iberdrola and Naturgy) on the orderly closure of the Spanish nuclear fleet between 2025 and 2035 guarantees the economic sustainability of the Enresa fund destined to the dismantling of the power plants, which would have been insufficient if the plants had been closed at 40 years, coinciding with the end of the useful life or design.
Faced with the extreme positions of the two largest groups in the sector, Endesa (supporter of the operation of facilities at 50 years) and Iberdrola (no more than 40), the agreement states that all of them will close after 40 and always before 50 years old Calculating that they work for an average of 45 years and that the atomic park annually produces almost 60,000 GWh (22% of the total of electricity generation), the companies consider that the current rate for dismantling (6.64 euros / MWh) will provide the sufficient funds for the future dismantling of the facilities, some 3,000 million of euros: 2,000 million in the five additional years in which all will work and another 1,000 million in the remaining five in which half work, until the definitive blackout.
In the worst case scenario, although the calculations will correspond to Enresa, "maybe it should be raised by one euro / MWh," say industry sources. One of the conditions of the ministry is that any agreement should take into account "the technical and economic capacity of the system for the simultaneous dismantling of several plants."
According to the latest official data of Enresa, the fund for the dismantling of nuclear 5,000 million euros: 4,350 million corresponding to the aforementioned production rate and almost 600 million collected in electric tolls (0.001%).
In the calculation of the useful life or design, the annual recharge periods are eliminated, so that it is extended in almost two years
According to the most pessimistic calculations, maintaining the current rate of 6.64 euros and closing the park at 40 years would have lacked in the fund 3,000 million euros, which would have made it necessary to double that rate from now. These amounts do not include the cost of the centralized temporary storage (ATC) of radioactive waste, which, according to different sources, is also part of the agreement although it has not transcended.
In any case, Endesa, which supports a longer period of operation, has requested that there be no single fund (or black box, as it is known in the sector) for the dismantling of the entire park, but individual funds. That is, that "each stick holds its candle" and that the contributions of each electric are destined to the dismantling of its own plants. A measure that would require a change in the law.
There are those who wonder how it is possible that Iberdrola and Naturgy, who refused in resounding to the extension of the exploitation of Almaraz beyond four years to avoid the investments that would be imposed by the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) have accepted the agreement willingly. The trick is that the useful life of the plants will discount the recharge periods (one and a half months each year) in which those are stopped.
A calculation claimed by Iberdrola, for which alleged that in other countries the useful life is measured by hours of operation and not by years, and that the ministry has accepted. In this way, automatically in almost two years, until almost 42. A relevant issue facing the demands of the CSN.
Regarding the regulatory change to eliminate the obligation of the partners of nuclear power plants, because they are constituted in economic interest groupings (AIE), to adopt any decision unanimously, the Ministry will apply the change including an exception in the Nuclear Installations Regulation . Legal sources believe that it can not be done otherwise, because the IEA are communities of assets, in this case of business activities, and are regulated in the Civil Code and can not be modified in general.
In its day, the Government of Rodríguez Zapatero tried a reform to convert nuclear power plants into commercial companies. The objective was that in each one there was a person responsible to face the eventuality. Iberdrola refused before the claim of Naturgy (then Gas Natural Fenosa) to take control of Trillo (in which the first has 48% and the second, 34.5%) in exchange for "cede" its 11% in Almaraz.
When this change is applied, decisions will be taken by simple majority. This will result, without the need for any exchange of assets, in which Ibedrola will control the three plants in which it has the majority (Almaraz I and II and Cofrentes), the longest, and Endesa three others (Ascó I and II and Vandellós II) , the youngest. In the case of Trillo, where none reaches 50%, Naturgy will assert its opinion, although, as has been clear in the case of Almaraz, it coincides with Iberdrola.
The agreement on the future of the nuclear park has been considered a triumph for the Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, who has been able to agree with traditionally unruly companies. However, the merit is also attributable to the companies that, in view of the blockade in which they were with respect to Almaraz, had been asking for the interemediation of the ministry, to which they have facilitated some of the solutions.
The calendar, which can hardly change any future Government, as they think in the sector, since it has the seal of the owners of the park and is linked to the attainment of funds for the dismantling of which the public Enresa will deal.
Although the plants will operate more years than they wanted Iberdrola and Naturgy and less than those claimed by Endesa, the agreement eliminates uncertainties about the Spanish park and allows companies to allocate part of the investments that will be saved to new renewable projects .
In the case of Iberdrola and Naturgy, they will also be giving out their combined cycle power plants, whose production has languished since the economic crisis began due to falling demand.