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Nuclear Moratorium in Spain

Nuclear moratorium in Spain

The temporary suspension of the construction and commissioning of nuclear power plants is called a nuclear moratorium.

In 1983 in Spain a National Energy Plan was drafted in which a nuclear moratorium would be decreed in the country. The nuclear moratorium meant the blockade of 5 nuclear power plants projects of the 7 that had been approved. Technically it was a brake on the dynamics of the development of nuclear energy in the country.

What Motives Caused the Nuclear Engine?

There are several reasons that motivated the creation of the nuclear moratorium:

  • Technical reasons
  • Reasons derived from the demand for electricity.
  • Social conditioning: The popular opposition of nuclear energy, especially in Extremadura and the Basque Country.

National Energy Plans and the Nuclear Moratorium

In 1983 a National Energy Plan was drafted in which nuclear energy in Spain was greatly affected.

To adapt the national electricity production to the energy demand and adjust the prices, the Congress of the Diputads approved in June 1984 the National Energy Plan of 1983 (PEN-83). The nuclear shutdown was the main novelty of the PEN-83 that consisted of the deceleration of the nuclear power plant construction program.

At that time there were 7 nuclear power plants that had authorization for its construction: The Lemóniz I-II nuclear power plant, the Valdecaballeros I-II nuclear power plants, the Trillo I-II nuclear power plants and the Vandellós II nuclear power plant. When developing PEN-83, ​​it was considered necessary to re-adapt the current nuclear power program to select only two nuclear power plants out of the seven that had authorization.

With these two nuclear installations, the installed power forecast made by the Plan itself, which was 7,600 megawatts of power (MW), would be achieved.

The Lemóniz nuclear power plant was ruled out because it was the most unfavorable option for people's safety, and because of the economic impact of a hypothetical nuclear accident.

The Valdecaballeros nuclear power plant ruled out why the investment made had been less, and also had strong social and institutional opposition in the area. The fear of a possible nuclear accident was very present in addition to the other inconveniences derived from nuclear energy.

Finally, the Trillo I nuclear power plants and the Vandellós II nuclear power plant had greater social and institutional acceptance in the areas of their location. This is why its construction of the facilities for nuclear fission was approved.

Technical Implications of Nuclear Moratorium

On the date the nuclear moratorium was approved, some of the projects were already started, so it was necessary to consider conservation strategies for what was built at that time.

In this sense, in the two groups of Lemóniz, the conservation of the construction was maintained until the date of the nuclear moratorium. In the two Valdecaballeros groups, only maintenance tasks would be carried out by carrying out a Stop Plan provided for in PEN-83.

At the Trillo II nuclear power plant, no task was performed because construction had not yet begun.

Economic Repercussions of the Nuclear Moratorium

From an economic point of view, the investment of the groups that owned the nuclear power plants that were blocked were already made. To compensate for the losses, by order of the Ministry of Industry, in October 1983, a percentage of the electricity tariff that would be used to meet these obligations was established. So today, a part of the electricity bill is still intended to pay for investments in nuclear energy projects that have never been developed.

The legal obligation of the nuclear moratorium was also included in the 1991 National Energy Plan (PEN-91). This plan established a series of forecasts of the demand for electric energy during the period of its validity and opted for the diversification of energy sources, promoting fossil fuels such as natural gas (non-renewable energy) and renewable energy such as solar energy to the detriment of nuclear energy, oil and coal (other fossil energy sources).

A debt was also recognized with the companies that own the nuclear moratorium plants for their paralyzed assets of nearly 3,800 million euros as of December 31, 1989.

The solution to the problem of the nuclear moratorium would come with the approval of the National Electricity System Ordinance Act (LOSEN) of 1994. This legal provision only affected certain nuclear power plants, especially aimed at establishing economic compensation for the damages caused by the paralysis of these plants. To do this, a percentage of the electrical thermos could be deducted.

This Provision did not affect the land selected for the sites of nuclear power plants in nuclear moratorium, which would continue to belong to the companies that own these facilities.

In December 1996, the Government and the electricity companies signed the Protocol for the establishment of a new regulation of the National Electric System. The result was the Electric Sector Law of 1997, which introduced major changes in the current system.

This new law meant a complete liberalization of the electric power production activity, so that the construction of nuclear power plants would only be subject to the prior administrative authorization regime.

In addition, it established the compensation system for companies that own the paralyzed nuclear power plants, setting an individual amount for each project and a maximum term of 25 years for full payment.

Compensation of Nuclear Power Plant Projects Permanently Paralyzed

The Ministerial Order of the Ministry of Economy of June 1996, established a Fund for the Securitization of Assets Resulting from the Nuclear Moratorium, as the sole assignee of the entire compensation right recognized to electricity companies (Iberdrola, Endesa, Unión Fenosa and Comañía Sevillana of Electricity) holders of the construction projects of the nuclear power plants of Lemóniz, Valdecaballeros and Trillo II.

The annual corresponding to 2000 and the amount pending compensation were established according to the Resolution of January 15, 2001 of the General Directorate of Energy and Mining Policy.

To determine the amount pending compensation on December 31 of each year, a prior audit of each project is carried out separately, in which the expenses caused by the maintenance, dismantling and closing programs of the plant facilities are assessed. paralyzed nuclear.


Published: December 9, 2010
Last review: March 20, 2019