Nuclear Politics

Spain / Industry Group Urges Gov’t To Guarantee Viability of Nuclear

By David Dalton
9 December 2019

Foro Nuclear points to high level of taxes and levies for sector
Industry Group Urges Gov’t To Guarantee Viability of Nuclear
The two-unit Asco nuclear power station in Spain.
The economic and financial viability of nuclear energy must be guaranteed during Spain’s energy transition, but this cannot happen if the sector is under fiscal pressure, particularly in the form of high taxes, Madrid-based industry group Foro Nuclear said.

Foro Nuclear said nuclear power will be needed during any transition, but noted that in recent tax years the nuclear fleet paid nearly €1,000 million a year in taxes, levies and fees, around 40% of their income for producing electricity.

Those payments include an increased fee for the final management of spent nuclear fuel and the search for intermediate and final repositories. The fee has been increased “dramatically”, according to Foro Nuclear, and is now more or less €7 per MWh produced, when the average market price for 1 MWh is about €41.

A law passed in 2012 obliged all electricity producers to pay fees in order to cover a deficit incurred because of subsidies to renewables in the past. Producers have to pay because the government at the time decided not to increase the regulated price for final consumers. Subsidies for renewables also created a deficit which nuclear needs to cover for.

The group’s members argue that nuclear is a low-carbon source of energy and provides stability to the grid. They say it should be rewarded for the provision of this baseload power.

In February, the Spanish government presented the draft of its energy and climate plan for 2021-2030.

The plan estimates the contribution of different technologies to the Spanish electric system every five years until 2030 and specifies that, at least until 2025, installed nuclear power will remain the same at around 7,400 MW. It will be reduced to 3,181 MW from 2030 onwards.

The plan – after comments from the European commission – must be approved before the end of the year. However, it has not been updated since last month’s general election, in which the governing Socialists (PSOE) won the most seats, but fell short of a majority.

According to Foro Nuclear, Spain’s fleet of seven commercial nuclear reactor units generated 53.2 TWh of electricity in 2018, a slight fall from 55.6 TWh in 2017 but still the largest source of generation in the country.

Foro Nuclear said one-third of the population supports nuclear power, but when they are told it does not produce CO2 emissions and generates the most electricity in the Spanish electric system, support grows to nearly 50%.

“This proves that informing and training people are key aspects for a greater acceptance of the technology,” Foro Nuclear said.

Foro Nuclear has called on delegates to the UN COP25 climate conference in Madrid this week to “ensure technological neutrality” in market rules so that in wholesale markets the economic viability of nuclear generation is not put at risk.

“If we look at the European Union, 14 of the 28 member states have nuclear power plants providing 25% of electricity generation, and 50% of low-carbon electricity is produced by the 126 nuclear reactors currently in operation,” Foro Nuclear said.

“These numbers are relevant because they strengthen the major role of nuclear power in the energy transition to the decarbonisation of the European economy.”

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