Nuclear Politics

Spain / Excluding Nuclear From Taxonomy Could Endanger Transition, Says Industry Group

By David Dalton
21 July 2021

Ministers’ decision to sign letter to European commission ‘regrettable’
Excluding Nuclear From Taxonomy Could Endanger Transition, Says Industry Group
Spain is planning to shut all its nuclear power plants by 2035.
Excluding nuclear power from Europe’s sustainable finance taxonomy could compromise funding for nuclear generation in Spain and endanger the continuity of reactor operations during the country’s planned energy transition up to 2035, Madrid-based Foro Nuclear said.

The Madrid-based industry group’s comments followed the government’s decision to sign a letter asking for nuclear power to be excluded from the taxonomy. Foro Nuclear said this decision was “regrettable”.

The letter, addressed to the European commission, was signed by two Spanish ministers along with ministers from Germany, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg – four countries that have no nuclear energy or, in Germany’s case, have decided to phase it out.

Spain has decided to phase out its fleet of seven commercial nuclear reactors by 2035, but a May 2021 International Energy Agency report warned this might not be straightforward.

The report said the government needs to closely monitor the financial situation of its “excellent” reactor fleet to prevent any unforeseen or sudden final shutdowns that could significantly deteriorate the security of electricity supply.

Foro Nuclear said Spanish nuclear plants are planning on investing around €3bn over the next 10 years to keep reactors running. Their exclusion from the taxonomy would compromise funding for these investments.

Signing the letter also poses a threat to the energy plans of other EU countries that rely on nuclear energy to achieve their decarbonisation goals, Foro Nuclear said.

The letter points to what it calls “shortcomings” in a report by the European commission’s Joint Research Centre published earlier this year, which concluded that nuclear energy is safe.

“Nuclear power is incompatible with the Taxonomy Regulation’s ‘do no significant harm’ principle,” the ministers wrote, urging the Commission to keep nuclear out of the EU’s green finance rules.

“We are concerned that including nuclear power in the taxonomy would permanently damage its integrity, credibility and therefore its usefulness,” they warned.

Foro Nuclear has said electricity production from the country’s nuclear plants is and has been the primary source of generation for the past decade, contributing over one-fifth of the electric energy consumed. Nuclear generates no CO2 and offers “remarkable regularity and reliability” as a firm energy source, providing stability to the electric system.

Earlier this month a group of 87 members of European parliament signed a letter to European commissioners calling on Brussels policymakers to include nuclear energy in the taxonomy.

The taxonomy is a package of regulations that governs investment in activities that the EU says are environmentally friendly.

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