Spain’s Environment Ministry has authorised the construction of an on-site dry storage facility for used nuclear fuel at Iberdrola's Cofrentes NPP in Valencia.
The environmental impact statement for the construction project was issued on 12 June by the General Directorate of Biodiversity and Environmental Quality and published in the Official State Gazette on 28 June. The project will cost €3.9 million ($4.4m) and will be operational by September 2021.
The used fuel pools at Cofrentes will be full by 2021 and plant’s operating life ends in 2024. The problem is exacerbated by delays to the completion of the Centralized Temporary Storage (ATC) in Villas de Cañas (Cuenca). However, the dry storage at Cofrentes could prolong the plant’s useful life until 2030, when it will be decommissioned.
The new facility will have capacity for 24 containers and it is expected to receive five containers every 24 months, which would make it possible for the plant to operate until at least 2031. If the central storage at Villas de Cañas were to become available the plant could theoretically operate even longer. However, the Council of Ministers in February approved the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) and the so-called Strategy for a Just Transition which targets a doubling of wind power between 2015 and 2030 and a nine-fold increase in photovoltaic solar power, while nuclear generation is reduced by more than half. As yet, Cofrentes operator Iberdrola has not formally declared its decision to extend the operation of the plant, although it has indicated its support for this.
Photo: Cooling towers at Spain's Cofrentes nuclear plant (CC BY-SA 3.0)