A lack of support among political parties and companies involved has been cited in the decision by the Spanish government to close down the country’s oldest nuclear power plant.

Energy Minister Alvaro Nadal announced on Tuesday that the license for the Santa Maria de Garona plant in northern Spain would not be renewed as there was too much uncertainty surrounding the plant’s viability.
Santa Maria de Garona nuclear power plant
The 46-year-old plant has been mothballed since July 2013, shut down by operator Nuclenor to avoid taxes on production.

Nuclear is being phased out in Spain, although the country still has seven other nuclear reactors providing 20 per cent of its energy.

The plant was granted a four-year extension, contingent on safety upgrades, instead of the normal extension time frame of 10 years.

The Spanish government will come under pressure to relax the taxes and levy structure it imposed in 2013, which has been blamed for hitting profitability in the nuclear sector.

Although heavily investing in renewables, that capacity is insufficient to meet total demand and the government faces a decision on whether to re-invest in the existing nuclear stock, or continue to keep coal-fired power online.

Spain has installed nuclear capacity of 7.6 GW, which makes up 7.6 per cent of total capacity, according to grid operator REE. However due to its relatively high load factor, in 2016 nuclear met 23 per cent of total demand and was the largest single source of electricity supply.