Foro Nuclear has come out today in a whirlwind against the draft bill that cuts benefits to non-CO2-emitting plants, which mainly affects nuclear and hydroelectric plants. According to him lobby, which brings together all the companies with interests in the sector, the nuclear power plants are not amortized and until the end of their operation it is necessary to invest around 3,000 million to keep the units in optimal conditions of safety and reliability. Likewise, it underlines that nuclear generation is currently at a loss “as a consequence of disproportionate, discriminatory and confiscatory taxation.”
“The draft law, current rates, taxes and duties and the future context of the market increase the financial asphyxia of the nuclear park and lead to its cessation of activity”, has communicated the forum, which expresses “its perplexity at the statements of that are amortized and that they enjoy benefits fallen from the sky ”. In his opinion, the audited balance sheets and profit and loss accounts of the companies that own the power plants, known to the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, reveal that the fixed assets pending amortization is higher than 5,500 million, with more than 3,000 million invested only in the last 10 years.
The Forum adds that in 2020, as a result of low electricity prices, nuclear plants had a negative cash flow of around 500 million, according to the PwC report carried out for Foro Nuclear, and losses of more than 1,000 million . With the draft law, said negative cash flow would have increased significantly, as the price of CO2 emission rights had been an average of 25 euros per ton. From 2005 to 2021, the taxes that support nuclear generation facilities have increased by about 20 euros MWh, representing 60% of their revenues in 2020.
With this cascade of data, the representatives of the Forum denounce that the future market context leads to “technical bankruptcy”, with accumulated cash destruction of 2,400 million in the next ten years, and will not allow future investments to be recovered. In addition, they recall that the power plants have repeatedly requested a review of the “extremely high taxation” they bear, and demand “an adjusted but reasonable remuneration that makes viable a technology that is essential for the decarbonization of electricity generation, contemplated in the National Plan Integrated Energy and Climate 2021-2030 (Pniec) ”. However, the draft bill goes in the opposite direction and leads the nuclear park to closure, they affect.
In relation to the explanations provided after the Council of Ministers on the preliminary draft of the Law to share the benefit of the cost of CO2 among all consumers and reduce the bill, and with regard to the nuclear sector, it stands out that the electricity production of nuclear origin it is and has been for the last decade the first source of generation, contributing more than a fifth of the electrical energy consumed in Spain. Likewise, it stands out for its regularity and reliability as a firm energy, providing great stability to the electrical system.
For the Nuclear Forum, this type of energy contributes to the decarbonisation expected by 2050 required by the EU. “For several years, and despite its excellent performance, the financial result of the nuclear park has been diminished, to the point of having operated at a loss during a large part of the last years in which the offers that marked the marginal price included the price of CO2, together with the excessive fiscal pressure it supports ”, they commented. This fact, in his view, has worsened in 2020, in which there have not only been losses, but there has been a negative operating cash flow.
Since the agreement for the orderly closure of the nuclear park, the tax burden has increased with new regional taxes such as that of Catalonia, which is levied on electricity production of nuclear origin, and with the extension to all power plants of the rate that finances the service response provided by the State Security Forces and Bodies. After signing this agreement, the Enresa rate increased by around 20%.
According to the Forum, the statement that in the medium and long term it is to be expected that prices in the wholesale market will tend to fall for most of the hours of the year due to the great penetration of renewable energies with variable cost tending to zero, leading at the marginal price at values much lower than the current ones, it seems the answer to a conjunctural situation of rising prices that does not correspond to the aforementioned medium and long-term trend.
Along with this, this preliminary draft leads to a loss of competitiveness of the Spanish nuclear power plants compared to those of France as a neighboring country. To avoid this, they see it necessary to establish an economic regime for the nuclear sector that guarantees an adjusted, but sufficient, remuneration that allows the maintenance of the activity and in particular its economic viability until the dates agreed in the nuclear closure protocol.