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29 Dec, 2023 12:56

Spain vows to phase out nuclear power by 2035

Almost a fifth of all electricity in the country is generated by nuclear reactors
Spain vows to phase out nuclear power by 2035

Spain has confirmed plans to shut down all of the country’s nuclear reactors by 2035, setting the goal of investing in more green energy. The plans have proved contentious, with many arguing that the country will be depriving itself of a key source of energy.  

The prospective costs of the shutdown and the management of nuclear waste are estimated to be around €20.2 million ($22.3 million), according to the results of a Council of Ministers meeting published on Wednesday. The costs will be covered by the owners of nuclear facilities, in line with Spain’s ‘polluter pays’ principle.

The fate of Spain’s atomic power plants was among the many bones of contention during the country’s elections in the summer. The conservative opposition People’s Party vowed to reverse any nuclear phaseout. “We cannot unplug 21% of the energy installed in Spain without having another 21% capable of running with renewable energy,” party leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo said in July, warning that “the price of energy will rise exponentially” if the plans proceed. 

Business lobby Circulo de Empresarios last month also called for Spain’s atomic power plants to be saved, insisting that politics and ideology should not affect established energy infrastructure. 

Madrid originally settled on the decommissioning in early 2019, when it drafted a national energy and climate plan required by EU rules.

On Wednesday, Spain also outlined new rules for the development of green and renewable energy projects. The Council of Ministers agreed to extend deadlines for upcoming projects, including in the energy sector, where applications for a building permit were increased by six months to 49 months. 

Government auctions for renewable energy projects such as wind power will also incorporate new criteria that take into account “social and environmental value to the European industry.”

Other plans include trimming excess energy spending and making energy consumption among businesses and consumers more efficient.

Spain is not the only European country to turn away from nuclear power this year. Germany’s last three nuclear reactors – Emsland, Isar 2, and Neckarwestheim 2 – were shut down in April.