Government ties renewal to election cycle
(NucNet) May 25 – Spain needs to renew the licenses of its eight commercially operational nuclear reactor units and plan for the construction of three new units by 2035 if it is to maintain a competitive and sustainable electricity mix, the president of the Spanish nuclear industry group Foro Nuclear told a parliamentary subcommittee yesterday.
Maria Teresa Dominguez (right) told a special subcommittee on energy of the Spanish Congress of Deputies that Spain needs another 2,600-3,000 MW of nuclear capacity.
The subcommittee has been working for a year on a national energy policy to 2035, which it is expected to submit to the full Congress later this year, Foro Nuclear said.
Ms Dominguez told the subcommittee that all major studies on Spain have concluded that nuclear power is necessary for economic, security of supply and climate protection reasons. She said the Spanish nuclear industry is prepared for new build and the re-launching of a Spanish nuclear energy program would be compatible with strategies in the EU and the rest of the world.
Nuclear energy’s share in the mix is expected to increase in the short, medium and long terms, she said. In two successive election campaigns, Spain’s current Socialist government has pledged to phase out nuclear power, but it has yet to close a single plant.
It did, however, limit the usual 10-year license renewal period for Garona, Spain’s oldest operating plant, to four additional years when its license was up for renewal in 2009. That license expires in 2013 now, after the next expected national elections in 2012.
Apply for ten year license, get four
According to the NucNet, one of the odd issues associated with this license renewal is that it is tied to political deadlines rather than a regulatory finding based on engineering safety analysis.
The reactor owner and operator said it would file legal action because it had complied with all the requirements for a ten-year extension. Nuclenor also said the action was arbitrary and that the government has violated its own rules.
The Spanish Nuclear Industry Forum. Foro Nuclear, raised the issue of jobs and joined with trade unions protesting the government’s actions.
The reactor will be 42 years old in 2013 which makes it younger than Oyster Creek, a reactor just re-licensed in the U.S.
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