02.08.2017_No152 / News in Brief

Spain’s Garoña To Shut Down Permanently After Ministry Blocks Restart

Plant Operation

2 Aug (NucNet): Spain’s ministry of energy will not renew the operating licence for the single-unit Santa Maria de Garoña nuclear power station near Burgos, northern Spain, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

Thge single-unit Garoña nuclear power station in northern Spain. Photo courtesy Nuclenor.

The ministry said it decided not to renew the licence after studying opinions submitted by various stakeholders including institutions, associations and companies, and taking into consideration the Spanish government's energy and climate plans.

The statement said no significant impact on Spain’s electricity supply had been seen since the 446-MW boiling water reactor was initially shut down at the end of 2012.

Garoña was shut down by owner Nuclenor six months before its operational licence was due to expire and was never restarted.

At the time, Nuclenor, which is jointly owned by Spain’s two largest utilities, Iberdrola and Endesa, blamed the shutdown on a tax on energy production and spent nuclear fuel that it said would have made the plant economically unviable.

In May 2014, Nuclenor submitted a request to renew the operating licence after a change in law allowed nuclear power stations that have shut down for reasons not related to safety to restart.

In February 2017, Spain’s regulator conditionally approved the restart, but said a number of additional activities had to be carried out before the energy ministry could give final approval.

The ministry said it will now approve Garoña’s decommissioning.

Spanish nuclear industry group Foro Nuclear said it considers the government’s refusal as a “specific, one-off decision”, which does not question the operation of the rest of Spain’s nuclear fleet.

Foro Nuclear said nuclear energy plays a key role as the first among all electricity generation sources in Spain’s electricity mix and is free of greenhouse gas emissions.

The energy ministry said decisions on the future of Spain’s other reactors are pending. Garoña began commercial operation in 1971.

Without it, Spain has seven reactor units in commercial operation, which provided 21% of its electricity in 2016.

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