Nuclear power leads electricity production in Spain with a share of over 22% in 2020. But Foro Nuclear said the industry’s financial results have been reduced to the point where some years it has operated with losses, mainly due to the excessive tax burden it endures.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the average price of electricity in the wholesale market fell in 2020. At the same time, taxes applied to electricity production from nuclear sources increased, with a new tax in Catalonia and the extension to all nuclear power plants of a tax that finances response services provided by state security forces.
The rate of contributions to national radioactive waste management company Enresa has also increased, from €6.69/MWh to €7.98/MWh, Foro Nuclear said. This is for the management of irradiated fuel and other radioactive waste products and for the future decommissioning of nuclear power plants.
The combination of low market prices and increased taxes means that for the first time, the nuclear fleet of seven commercial reactors is operating with a negative operating cash flow because market prices failed to cover its operative costs, taxes and levies, said Foro Nuclear president Ignacio Araluce.
Mr Araluce called the situation “alarming” and urged the government to take action. He said the nuclear industry’s leadership and positive operating data from the nuclear fleet “reinforce the essential role of nuclear power in the energy transition as a constant, reliable and stable source of energy”.
The Spanish government’s energy and climate plan specifies that installed nuclear capacity will remain at current levels until at least 2025, but will be reduced to just over 3,000 MW from 2030 onwards.