Country profile: Spain

Summary figures for 2013

The following information is from the NEA publication Nuclear Energy Data, the annual compilation of official statistics and country reports on nuclear energy in OECD member countries.

Number of nuclear power plants connected to the grid
Nuclear electricity generation
(net TWh) 2013
Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply
OECD Europe
1 883.2

* Provisional data

Country report

Spanish policy

The Spanish government considers that Spain requires a balanced electricity mix that takes into account all energy sources and the available capacities. Having in mind that nuclear energy contributes both to the diversification of energy supply sources and to the reduction of greenhouse emissions, nuclear power plants, which nowadays imply a relevant generation capacity for the country, could not be disregarded whenever they comply with the conditions on nuclear safety and radiological protection imposed by the Nuclear Safety Council.

Nuclear generation

In 2013, nuclear energy provided around 19.7% of total net electricity production, with a decrease of 7% in the nuclear energy generated with respect to the previous year, due mainly to the fact that most of the operating reactors had refuelling outages. It is also noteworthy that, during Holy Week of 2013, due to extremely low demand concurred with high hydraulic production and high forecast wind production, the Spanish transmission system operator Red Eléctrica de España – to ensure the stability of the electrical network – had to issue orders to reduce production to maintain the balance between generation and demand. Inter alia, these reductions were applied to nuclear power plants, which was exceptional and unprecedented since 1997.

As envisaged, the definitive shutdown of Santa María de Garoña NPP was declared by Ministerial Order on 6 July 2013, even though the plant was not connected to the grid during 2013. The decision for this shutdown was economically motivated and not linked to safety reasons. Some recent changes in the legal framework (see below) could provide for the generation of electricity at this facility again.

Front end of the fuel cycle

In 2013, the Juzbado nuclear fuel fabrication facility manufactured 1 116 fuel assemblies containing 344.6 tU. From the total production, 766 fuel assemblies containing 223.8 tU have been exported to Belgium, France and Sweden, representing 65% of the total production. Acquisitions of uranium concentrates came from the Russian Federation (39.3%), Niger (21.2%), Canada (20.2%), Kazakhstan (7.3%), Namibia (5.2%), Uzbekistan (3.1%), Malawi (2.1%) and South Africa (1.4%).

Back end of the fuel cycle

The main activities affecting the back end of the fuel cycle in 2013 continued to be focused on launching the licensing process of the centralised interim storage facility (CISF) for spent fuel (SF) and high-level waste (HLW). The hosting municipality, Villar de Cañas (province of Cuenca), was elected by the government on 30 December 2011. Villar de Cañas was among the 14 municipalities that voluntarily had presented their candidature, following a Resolution by which a public call for this selection was launched in late 2009.

In 2013, once the land for the facility was acquired, a detailed characterisation of the site (study of the geographical and geotechnical characteristics, seismicity, geology, hydrogeology, etc.) was conducted and all activities oriented to contracting the main engineering of the project were started.

The next steps will be licensing the facility which, according to the Regulation on Nuclear and Radioactive Facilities, starts with the preliminary and construction authorisations. To this end, in January 2014, the National Company for Radioactive Waste (ENRESA) submitted the application for these authorisations to the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. Additionally, in August 2013, ENRESA submitted the application to initiate the required environmental impact assessment to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment. Meanwhile, works are in progress in relation to the engineering and technical aspects. The CISF is tentatively expected to start operation in late 2017.

As for individual interim storage facilities (IISFs) at nuclear power plants, there are three in operation following the licensing of an IISF at the Ascó NPP in the spring of 2013. Additionally, the licensing of an IISF for the Santa María de Garoña NPP began in the same year.

Concerning low- and intermediate-level waste, El Cabril facility has continued to manage this type of waste generated at radioactive and nuclear facilities. The inventory of disposed radioactive wastes in the facility, as of 31 December 2013, reached 29 602 m3.

As regards to very low-level waste (VLLW), the El Cabril facility has a dedicated VLLW disposal area, consisting of a cell with a disposal capacity of some 30 000 m3. As of 31 December 2013, 7 612 m3 have been disposed of. The aim, in the future, is to construct a further three cells until the authorised capacity of 130 000 m3 is attained. In 2013, ENRESA started a project for the construction of the second cell with an estimated capacity of 39 000 m3 – the project received a favourable report from the Nuclear Safety Council in January 2014.

Legal framework

On 27 December 2012, Law 15/2012 on fiscal measures for energy sustainability introduced new taxes applicable to energy. The law established two new taxes that are applicable to nuclear installations or activities: a tax on the production of spent fuel and radioactive waste as a consequence of the nuclear energy generation; and a tax on spent fuel and radioactive waste storage in centralised installations. On 29 October 2013, Law 16/2013 amended Law 15/2012 to clarify the practical application of the tax on the production of spent fuel and among other matters, specified the determination of taxable income in the event of cessation of the operation of a nuclear power plant and modified the tax period to the cycle of operation of each reactor.

Finally, on 21 February 2014, the Royal Decree 102/2014 on the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste was approved in order to comply with Directive 2011/70/Euratom. This decree revises the provisions established on 31 October 2013 in Royal Decree 1349/2003 on the ordering of activities of ENRESA and their financing, which is repealed. Furthermore, in an additional provision, this decree amends the regulation on nuclear and radioactive facilities, establishing that, if the cessation of activity is not due to nuclear safety reasons, the cessation will not be definitive and the licence holder may apply for a renewal of the operating permit within one year from the date of the referred cessation. Such a renewal must be reported favourably by the Nuclear Safety Council.

Source: Nuclear Energy Data 2014

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Last reviewed: 19 December 2014