Saturday, February 24, 2024

Spain joins Germany in insisting on withdrawal from nuclear energy, will they regret it?

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The Spanish government reached an agreement this week to formally begin decommissioning the country’s commercial nuclear energy grid in favor of more conventional renewable energy, Reuters first reported. According to agreed terms, Spain’s seven currently operating commercial nuclear fission reactors will be decontaminated at each facility before a comprehensive waste cleanup process will ensure that no harmful fissile fuel enters the surrounding ecosystem. A step-by-step preparation process for decommissioning will soon begin.

Cofurentes Nuclear Power Plant
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Photo: Osvaldo Gago – Own work (inner images) autoevolution Edit

If all goes according to plan, each of Spain’s operating nuclear reactors will be completely shut down by 2035 at the earliest. Meanwhile, finding ways to supplement Spain’s 20.2 percent of energy spending has become a key priority for the Spanish government, led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who has been in office for five and a half years. The question of how to close this gap, which is one-fifth of Spain’s total energy demand, was a hot topic in the recent Spanish general elections, with the conservative opposition coalition of Spain’s National Party withdrawing proposed nuclear regulations. It was decreed that A phase-out process if they come to power.

However, the National Energy Policy of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, which has strong influence in Spain’s Senate and regional parliaments and is headed by Pedro Sánchez as general secretary, is scheduled to begin in 2024, which is yet to be announced. Under the agreement, deadlines for renewable energy projects in Spain, which were once six months away, have now been extended to take into account the significant increase in energy spending expected from Spain’s future non-nuclear energy sources. It has been extended to a maximum of 49 months. program.

With solar, geothermal, wind and hydropower efforts growing naturally on Spanish soil, it remains to be seen whether green forms of energy production can truly account for one-fifth of Spain’s energy. Meanwhile, other parts of Western and Central Europe appear to be in similar disputes over the nuclear issue, as on either side of the debate in Spain. In Germany, the last domestic commercial nuclear reactor will be shut down on April 15, 2023, ending the country’s nuclear power sector that lasted until the Cold War era of the 1960s.

Meanwhile, across the border in France, sentiments surrounding nuclear reactors are unlikely to change with effort. The total expenditure is said to account for 62-70% of France’s energy, so any future plans to reduce the total number of nuclear fission reactors in the country will only reduce that share to 50%. It is not clear for some time whether France, Germany and the UK will also come to regret their decisions to scale back their nuclear sectors by 2030. But it is hard to say that the impact of nuclear energy laws will be a meltdown-level issue for European voters for decades to come.

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