Spain canceled the project for a centralized nuclear waste repository, raising costs for the upcoming nuclear phaseout and making the extension even less likely. According to the now official plan, all seven remaining reactors will be taken offline between 2027 and 2035.
The Council of Ministers of Spain has approved the Seventh General Plan for Radioactive Waste (PGRR), formalizing the schedule for the closure of the country’s nuclear power fleet. The five remaining plants with seven reactors are due to be shut down by 2035, starting with the Almaraz 1 unit in November 2027.
The document, proposed by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, was supposed to be adopted eight years ago. Brought in 2006, the previous plan envisaged the closure of the facilities between 2021 and 2027. There is little chance that investing in the extension of their operating life would pay off as the waste management system just became much more costly.
Specifically, the government scrapped the centralized temporary storage project in Villar de Cañas, even though it cost EUR 90 million so far. Instead, the idea is to set up seven such facilities in each plant, including two that are already being dismantled. Within 50 years, a deep geological repository is supposed to be established for all the nuclear waste.
Closure, nuclear waste management to cost EUR 20.2 billion in total
As in the previous plan, the El Cabril storage system in the province of Córdoba will keep receiving the very low to intermediate level waste until all the plants are dismantled. It needs to be expanded.
The ministry said overall costs would reach EUR 20.2 billion. The figure is for the period until the end of the century. According to the regulation, three years must pass from reactor closure before it can be taken apart.
Five plants currently covering one fifth of Spain’s electricity needs
Spain reached a provisional deal about the nuclear phaseout already in 2019 with the operators. Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy are running a total net capacity of 7.1 GW, covering a fifth of domestic electricity consumption.
Conversely, 25 countries, the majority of them European, have signed the Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy by 2050, issued earlier this month in Dubai at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28. Armenia, Croatia and Jamaica joined after the announcement. Immediately, 120 companies from the sector expressed support for achieving the goal.
The government in Madrid has also significantly extended administrative deadlines for renewable energy projects, its only remaining foothold in decarbonization, as it vowed to exit coal as well, by 2025.