Vandells nuclear power plant, in Tarragona.

The electric companies go on the attack in the new pulse that confronts them with the vice president of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, due to the projected regulatory cut on the revenues of its nuclear and hydroelectric plants. The first of these facilities will absorb 70% of the blow and will be left in a situation of “technical bankruptcy”, according to the president of the Nuclear Forum, Ignacio Araluce. This organization includes the companies that own the seven reactors operating in Spain and the nuclear industry as a whole, with 30,000 employees in the country.

After days of silence and prolonged falls on the stock market, the electricity companies react against the draft law approved on Tuesday in Minister council which foresees “reducing” their income in the wholesale market to prevent them from benefiting from the high cost of CO2 in Europe. This increase in the “cost to pollute” is transferred to the price of the megawatt hour by the gas thermal plants, but since it is a marginalist system all the producers charge the maximum price and end up benefiting from the fact that the electricity goes off. Ribera’s plan is for the electricity companies not to receive that ‘green dividend’ on their nuclear and hydraulic plants, since neither of them are polluting technologies and they do not suffer from the rising cost of CO2.

The Nuclear Forum has presented a study carried out by the consulting firm Pwc which certifies that all the plants closed 2020 with losses of more than 1 billion euros and a negative cash flow of 500 million euros. In other words, according to this study, the groups did not cover their operating costs over the past year. Far from being a temporary blow, the sector anticipates that the negative cash flow will be 2,400 million euros in the next decade and they warn that the activity is “unsustainable”.

“The draft law, the current rates, taxes and duties and the future market context increase the financial asphyxia of the nuclear park and lead to its cessation of activity, which will not only affect its contribution to the electricity system but also, the maintenance of highly qualified jobs, and would endanger the viability of support companies of great importance in the industrial sector of our country “, warns the nuclear employer. This is the first notice of the breaking of the great pact to establish a nuclear park closure schedule between 2027 and 2035 reached in January 2019.

The sector has asked the Government to take advantage of the parliamentary processing of the draft to find a solution to this crisis that guarantees the viability of the facilities in full ecological transition. In this sense, Araluce recalled that nuclear is still the main source of electricity generation in the country and the one that contributes the most to the decarbonisation of the mix by contributing a third of the electricity free of CO2. Its solution is to seek a fixed remuneration scheme similar to the one approved in France.

Ribera, however, does not believe the figures that the sector handles and ensures that the reactors are fully amortized, so their profitability will continue to be very high after the adjustment. In any case, the vice president already warned last Tuesday that the closure of a nuclear power plant is a highly regulated process and is subject to the approval of the ministry itself and the system operator. Red Elctrica.

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