Spain’s Popular Party’s Proposal to Prolong Nuclear Plant Operations ‘Challenging’, Declares Energy Minister

The pledge of Popular Party leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo to lengthen the operational span of Spain’s seven nuclear power plants is a political catchphrase and a complex proposition, said Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, on Tuesday. “Simply declaring ‘I will prolong’ is not sufficient. It begs the question: Who will bear the financial burden? The state, or the consumers? That’s the underlying message that needs clarification,” she emphasized, as reported by EFE.

On Monday, Núñez Feijóo put forth a proposition to postpone the scheduled decommissioning of the seven Spanish nuclear power plants and “prolong their operating lifespan” should the Popular Party triumph in the general election on 23 July. Ribera perceives this proposition as an electioneering tactic given that the election campaign commences in a week.

Inquiring who would bear the considerable expense of executing this proposal, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (PSOE/S&D) challenged the Popular Party leader. “The query that the Popular Party is evading is: Who will foot the bill – the citizens or the State? Upon examining the energy sector long-term, the cost of nuclear power-generated electricity is considerably higher than that of renewables. They will have to clarify who will pay,” Sánchez stated during a Cadena SER interview aired Monday night.

The Socialist Prime Minister reminded that in 2019, Minister Ribera agreed with the proprietors of the seven nuclear power plants on a “closure timeline until 2035.” He expressed regret that Núñez Feijóo didn’t propose any energy-related solutions pertaining to ecological transition. The seven Spanish nuclear power reactors will be gradually decommissioned beginning in 2027 and reaching a “complete nuclear shutdown” in Spain by 2035, according to the socialist government’s 2019 plan. The schedule for decommissioning, along with the corresponding plant, is as follows: Almaraz I (2027), Almaraz II (2028), Ascó I and Cofrentes (2030), Ascó II (2032), and Vandellós II and Trillo (2035).

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Additionally, Ribera, who is ranked second on the PSOE’s list for Madrid in the 23 July general election, stated that Núñez Feijóo’s pledge sends a “misleading message.” The minister recalled that the nuclear power plant managing companies themselves had formerly concurred on a “closure timeline until 2035” and that while the government is open to safety investments, it is unwilling to extend the life expectancy of the nuclear plants by “a few years.” “We are not ready to allocate substantial amounts of money for something with a limited lifespan that, if extended, demands a considerably larger sum than we’re prepared to sustain,” stated Ribera.

In contrast, the minister stated that “renewable energy solutions are best suited for this country, ensuring affordable, stable, and predictable energy prices for consumers, as well as returns for investors.” “Spain is rich in renewable energy alternatives, as well as in human capital, will, companies, and societies that understand how to capitalize on opportunities for innovation, employment, and industry related to renewables.” “We have become a significant magnet for investment,” Ribera said.

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