Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy, the owners of Spain’s Almaraz nuclear plant, agreed on 22 March to request the renewal of the operating licence for the two-unit plant, which expires in 2020 to enable the plant to continue operating until 2027 and 2028. It will then be decommissioned over 15 years by 2043.
The deadline for requesting licence renewal was 31 March. The owners -Iberdrola (53%), Endesa (36%) and Naturgy (11%) –faced penalties if they failed to meet the deadline.
Almaraz 1 began commercial operation in September 1983 and Almaraz 2 in July 1984. Both are 900MW pressurised water reactor units. Almaraz is Spain’s oldest commercial nuclear power station and is the first scheduled for closure under Spain’s nuclear phase-out policy. All seven Spanish reactors are to be permanently shut down between 2027 and 2035.
In February the Government sent its draft National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan to Brussels, in which it foresees that in 2030 there will still be more than 3000MW of nuclear capacity in the Spanish electric mix. The protocol includes a closure calendar for the Spanish nuclear fleet. After Almaraz, it would be Ascó I (2029) and Cofrentes (2030). In 2033, Ascó II would be closed and, in 2035, Vandellós and Trillo.
Disagreements among the owners delayed the decision on Almaraz.
Initially, Iberdrola and Naturgy insisted that if the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) imposed conditions for the licence renewal that exceeded by 15% the investments included in the business plan approved until 2028, amounting to €400 million euros, they would not accept them. However, the limit was increased to 50%, and they eventually agreed to disburse a maximum of €600 million.
Photo: Almaraz nuclear plant (Credit: Foronuclear)