Nuclear power in Spain

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Nuclear power plants in Spain (view)
Location dot red.svg Active plants
Location dot purple.svg Closed plants
Location dot black.svg Unfinished plants
The contribution from nuclear power to Spain's energy portfolio increased until about 1988 and remained near constant from there on. After that its market share declined as demand rose.[1]
  Other renewables

Spain has five active nuclear plants with seven reactors producing 21% of the country's electricity as of 2013.

A nuclear power moratorium was enacted by the Socialist government in 1983.[2] For a time the country had a policy of phasing out nuclear power in favor of renewables.[3] It ended in 1997 but no public or private company has been interested in building new nuclear plants. The oldest unit (at José Cabrera nuclear power plant) was shut down at the end of 2006, 40 years after its construction.[4] In December 2012, the Garoña plant was also shut down.[5] In 2011, the government lifted the 40-year limit on all reactors, allowing owners to apply for license extensions in 10-year increments.[6]


In early 1947, the Commission was created within the National Research Council in order to rule on issues of "Technical Physics of greatest interest to the country". In the middle of that year, the Naval Attache of the United States Embassy in Spain, won the Laboratory and Workshop on Research Staff of the Navy an extensive collection of American journals specializing in nuclear fission and its civil and military applications. This was the first contact with the outside world, and led to international collaborations.

To that end, establishing the Atomic Research Board in the form of study (Irani 1987). His work during the triennium (1948–1950) focuses on two aspects. On the one hand, begin to train abroad the first Spanish experts on nuclear issues. On the other hand, begins the search for uranium to serve as raw material for the development of the first investigations. Studies conducted by the Board, lead by Decree-Law on October 22, 1951 to the Nuclear Energy Board, which aims to provide new knowledge in the process of energy production.

In 1963, two significant events occur: the enactment of the Nuclear Energy Act and prior authorization from the Central will be the first Spanish (Almonacid de Zorita, Guadalajara) later known as Jose Cabrera. In June 1965 construction began three years after the plant was synchronized and provided power to the grid for the first time. Three years later it opened in 1971, launched the Santa Maria de Garoña (Burgos), with a capacity of 460MW. In 1972, the network was connected to the Spanish-French central Vandellós (Tarragona) with a capacity of 500MW. The fire occurred in 1989 in this last plant, destroyed part of its facilities. After evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of repair made a year after the fire, led to the decision to withdraw this plant.

These three so-called first-generation plants represent a combined capacity of 1220 MW. Following the good results obtained in them, and the growing need for energy, we decided to build seven new groups (four plants) of much greater production capacity, resulting in an additional nuclear power of 6500 MW.

At the beginning of 1981 begin producing electricity the first group of Almaraz (Cáceres) with a capacity of 930 MW. In 1983 starts the reactor Ascó (Tarragona) with a capacity of 930 MW, is operated and the second group with the same power Almaraz.

In 1984 he inaugurated the central Cofrentes (Valencia) with a capacity of 975 MW, a year after the network is connected to the second reactor of 930 MW Ascó group. In December 1987, enters the central testing period Vandellós II, and finally, in 1989 is put into operation the central Trillo I (Guadalajara) to 1066 MW.

As shown, nuclear power plants in Spain are located in the northern half. This is because the area is less seismic impact of the peninsula and where the presence of large rivers Tajo and Ebro meet their needs for water used for cooling.

Current situation[edit]

Spain has a total of 10 nuclear installations within their mainland, among which are six stations, which are a total of eight nuclear units: Almaraz I and II, Ascó I and II, Cofrentes, Trillo, Vandellós I and II. The José Cabrera, better known as Zorita, ceased operations on April 30, 2006. So did Santa Maria de Garoña in 2012. On the other hand, Vandellós I is being dismantled.

Spain also possesses a nuclear fuel factory in Salamanca (Juzbado) and a storage facility for radioactive waste, low and intermediate level in Córdoba (El Cabril).

Nuclear power plants[edit]

In 1964, Spain began construction on its first of three nuclear reactors and completed construction in 1968. This became the first commercial nuclear reactor. In the 1970s, Spain began construction on seven second generation reactors, but only completed five. A moratorium was enacted by the socialist government in 1983. Spain stopped the building of new nuclear power plants in 1984.

The first generation of nuclear plants in Spain were all turnkey projects, including the José Cabrera Nuclear Power Plant and the Vandellòs Nuclear Power Plant.

The second generation of plants were domestically built by companies including Empresarios Agrupados, INITEC and ENSA. Five of these were built.

The third generation of Spanish plants (not to be confused with Generation III) includes the Trillo-1 and Vandellos-2. All of the other five units of this series were halted in the middle of construction after a moratorium stopping further construction passed in 1994. Capacity of the nuclear fleet has still increased since then due to power uprates.

There are no plans for either expansion or accelerated closure of nuclear plants.[7] A leak of radioactive material from the Ascó I nuclear power plant in November 2007 sparked protests.[8] The country's government has pledged to shut down its eight nuclear reactors once wind and solar energy become viable alternatives such as in neighbouring country Portugal.

Fuel cycle[edit]

ENUSA is a company in Spain with various holdings in uranium mining. A Uranium mine in Saelices el Chico was operated for some time, but is now decommissioned and Spain imports all of its Uranium fuel.

State owned Empresa Nacional de Residuos Radiactivos SA was established in 1984 and is the responsible outfit for radioactive waste disposal and decommissioning. There is a temporary dry storage facility at the Trillo Nuclear Power Plant, and research for a long term geological repository won't commence until 2010.

Nuclear waste[edit]

Spain stores nuclear waste at the reactor sites for ten years with no reprocessing. Plans for future storage include a temporary storage facility in Trillo, until the establishment of a longer-term storage facility.[7] Funding for nuclear waste management is paid by a tax of 1% on all revenues from nuclear power.

As of 2017 Spain has extended the life of the Almaraz Nuclear Power Plant and a nuclear storage facility will be built according to the Spanish secretary of State for the EU Jorge Toledo Albiñana, stating work will start regardless of Portugals complaints, and uranium bars that will remain radioactive for the next 300 years will be stored on site.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "International Electricity Generation". U.S. Energy Information Administration, Dept. of Energy (DOE). Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  2. ^ "Spain halts nuclear power". WISE News Communique. 1991-05-24. Retrieved 2006-05-19. 
  3. ^ "Nuclear Europe: Country guide". BBC. 2006-02-16. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  4. ^ The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2007 p. 29.
  5. ^ retrieved 2013-3-28
  6. ^ "No limits for Spanish reactors". World Nuclear News. WNA. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  7. ^ a b "Nuclear Power in Spain". World Nuclear Association (WNA). 2011-01-20. Retrieved 2011-02-22. 
  8. ^ Martin Roberts (2008-04-08). "Spain nuclear plant leak below legal limit: watchdog". Environmental News Network. Retrieved 2010-01-07. 
  9. ^ "Nuclear waste dump on Tejo river begins construction “in next few days”". Retrieved 17 January 2017. 

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