Young Nuclear Groups Seek Rethink On Spanish Nuclear Closure

A gathering in Madrid of more than 70 representatives from the European and international young nuclear networks, from 27 countries, heard the case put against the planned closure of Almaraz nuclear power plant’s unit 1.

The aim of the gathering was to share experiences of the nuclear sector in their respective countries for members of the European Nuclear Society – Young Generation Network and the International Young Nuclear Network. The host Spanish Youth Network’s ‘Salvemos Almaraz’ (‘Let’s save Almaraz’) initiative gained support from representatives from different countries.

Spain has seven nuclear reactors generating about a fifth of its electricity, but under its nuclear phase-out policy the fleet is scheduled to shut down by 2035, with Almaraz 1 due to be taken offline in 2027. Jóvenes Nucleares, an association for young professionals and students from the Spanish nuclear sector, noted that the two unit Almaraz nuclear power plant’s 2000 MWe installed capacity generates enough electricity for 4 million homes and represents 7% of total generation in Spain, avoiding the emission of 7.2 million tonnes of CO2 per year. It also highlighted that EUR600 million (USD655 million) had been invested in maintenance and operation to be included in the highest category by World Association of Nuclear Operators.

“For all these reasons, Jóvenes Nucleares … believes that the closure plan established in the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan must be reconsidered. Spanish nuclear power plants generate clean energy, as they do not emit CO2, they are reliable, cheap, as proven by various studies by neutral international organisations that describe that extending the life of the plants is the most economical way to generate electricity per MW; and safe, which is not only more than demonstrated by their operation over the last 40 years, but also by their constant investment in improvements,” the organisation said in a statement.

It said that 2024 was a crucial year as the deadline approaches for any reversal of the decision to end operations at Almaraz 1 in 2027. The nuclear phase-out policy was confirmed by the Spanish government in December.

The weekend also included a number of technical visits, to the TJ-II nuclear fusion device and the simulator of the control room of the Trillo nuclear power plant at Westinghouse Madrid.