Garoña licence renewal option sought

17 May 2013

Spanish utility Nuclenor has requested a partial revocation of a ministerial order allowing an extension to the operating licence application deadline for the shut Garoña nuclear power plant, enabling a possible restart.

Garona - Foronuclear
Garoña (Image: Foronuclear)

Garoña was disconnected from the grid on 16 December 2012. At that time, Nuclenor said that work had already begun on the gradual removal of fuel from the reactor's core. The company informed the country's industry ministry that it had shut down the plant - a 466 MWe boiling water reactor - to avoid being burdened with a new energy tax imposed this year. These taxes were imposed on the production of electricity and used nuclear fuel. Nuclenor estimated that these taxes would cost it some €150 million ($192 million) in 2013, which it claimed could push it into bankruptcy.

In September 2012, Nuclenor missed the deadline to submit an operating licence renewal application for Garoña - Spain's oldest nuclear power plant - meaning that it would have to shut when its current licence expires on 6 July 2013.

However, Nuclenor's board of directors has now written to the ministry requesting that an order made on 29 June 2012 be partially revoked, extending the deadline for a licence extension application. This, it said, would 'maintain the option to request a renewal of the operating permit in force' and 'ensure the continued operation of the plant.'

Nuclenor, which operates Garoña on behalf of plant owners Iberdrola and Endesa, claims the government failed to inform it of how pending energy reforms would affect the plant's economic feasibility. It said that it made several requests to the industry ministry to either extend the deadline for the application submission or to provide details about the planned energy reforms, which would have "cleared up the regulatory doubts that surround the future of the Garoña plant so as to be able to make a decision to justify the return of investment that would be required."

Some €120 million ($154 million) of investments would be required in modernization and safety upgrades fort Garoña to continue its operation.

When announcing the shut down in December, Nuclenor noted that its decision could be reversed if the bill was not enacted or if various conditions were imposed.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News