Nuclear plants vital for Spain, manifesto says

10 March 2023

The Spanish Nuclear Society (Sociedad Nuclear Española, SNE) has published a manifesto setting out the strategic importance of the country's nuclear power plants - and warned that there will be no turning back if current closure plans are allowed to go ahead.

(Image: SNE)

The European energy crisis is having an undeniable impact on people's well-being, the non-profit association of nuclear sector professionals and institutions said, with current concerns about energy independence, energy costs and the fight against climate change. The urgency of facing these "great challenges" is "unquestionable".

According to the EU's energy roadmap, electricity demand is expected to double in the period to 2050, with growth of carbon-free electricity generation and moving away from fossil fuel-based energy sources as soon as possible, SNE said. Delaying the closure of nuclear generation capacity is "prudent and reasonable" if this is to be achieved, SNE added, and this conclusion is being reached in all EU countries - except Spain.

The growth in renewable installed capacity and development of storage technologies by 2030 foreseen in Spain's National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) - which is due to be reviewed this year - are far from being fulfilled, SNE said. Meanwhile, the closure schedule for the Almaraz 1 and 2, Ascó 1 and Cofrentes nuclear power plants would result in the loss of 4 GWe of Spain's installed capacity between 2027 and 2030, 12% of Spanish electricity generation

The SNE's Nuclear Manifesto sets out ten key reasons why nuclear is essential for Spain, including increasing carbon-free generation, security of supply, helping to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets and sustainability goals, employment and economic benefits, and helping to contain energy costs.

"As nuclear professionals, we endorse the safe operation of our nuclear power plants and their ability to continue operating beyond the age of 40," SNE said via Twitter, highlighting International Energy Agency findings that "long-term operation is the cheapest way to produce power if you are not burdened with taxes".

The SNE manifesto calls for:

  • The contribution of nuclear energy to the PNIEC to be reviewed, noting that Spain's nuclear park provides more than 20% of the country's electricity demand and has been the country's leading energy generator for the last 10 years, directly and indirectly supporting thousands of jobs
  • A stable economic, fiscal and regulatory framework be established to allow the continued operation of Spain's nuclear park as a necessary resource for the transition to a low-carbon economy
  • Recognition of the role of nuclear power plants to complement and support the growth of renewables, forming an independent, competitive and sustainable energy mix
  • An end to the criticisms of nuclear power plants based on concerns about radioactive waste when proven technological solutions exist both for its temporary and permanent management
  • The role played by Spain's nuclear power plants to be publicly and politically recognised as a necessary and strategic good for the economic development and competitiveness of the country

"For our part, we offer the commitment of nuclear professionals to work in a safe, reliable and sustainable manner in the operation of these facilities so that their generation capacity remains intact for decades to come," the manifesto concludes.

"2023 is a key year for Spain, because, if a firm decision has not been made in 2024 on the contribution of nuclear energy in the 2030-2050 period, there will be no turning back and the definitive closure of Almaraz 1 will be technically confirmed," SNE said via Twitter.

"I applaud the initiative of the SNE and the professionals that make it up," World Nuclear Association Director General Sama Bilbao y Léon said. "It is time for Spain to recognise the extremely important role that nuclear power has played for decades, as well as the absolutely essential role that it continues to play today.

"At a critical moment worldwide, in which more and more countries plan to use nuclear energy as a pillar of decarbonisation, energy independence and economic development, it makes no sense for Spain to get rid of this clean and reliable source of energy."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News