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Spanish nuclear plant output drops 6% TWh in 2018

Highlights

Reactors produce 53.2 TWh in full year

Operational for average 82.1% of the year

Extended Vandellos 2 outage weighs on totals

Barcelona — Spanish nuclear plant output fell around 6% in 2018 with the operating rate dropping nearly four percentage points from 2017, data published Friday by nuclear association Foro Nuclear showed.

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Nuclear nonetheless retained its position as the largest single power source for the fifth successive year, with 53.2 TWh output, equivalent to 20.4% of the national total. This was the lowest output since 2011 and compares to quotas of 21.2% in 2017, 21.8% in 2016, 21.8% in 2015, 22% in 2014 and 21.2% in 2013, when it shared the leadership with windpower.

The decline last year was partly due to some lengthy planned and unplanned outages, most notably a prolonged series of planned and unplanned stoppages at the Vandellos 2 plant that effectively halted output from March 3 to July 29, 2018.

This contributed to an overall drop in nuclear output from 55.6 TWh the previous year, as the operating rate fell from 85.8% to 82.1%, equivalent to 7,192 hours of operation in the year, down from 7,500 in 2017.

This was 42% higher than the next highest technology, which was energy from waste.

Overall, nuclear represented around 34.4% of the production mix that was CO2-free, according to the group, down from a 40% share in 2017.

Tighter EU carbon market set to prompt more power fuel switching in Europe

2019 is set to be the year that coal-to-gas switching in power generation takes off in continental Europe. Carbon prices supported by the new market stability reserve cutting supplies, coupled with potentially lower gas prices, could prompt unprecedented C2G switching volumes.

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Nuclear installed capacity was equal to just over 7% of Spain's total installed capacity, meaning it was the most efficient source of electrical energy in the country.

The latest draft strategy that the government is preparing to submit to the EU shows that Spain is considering full closure of the entire fleet by 2035, with just one shutdown taking place before 2025, according to Spanish press reports.

--Staff, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Gianluca Baratti, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Edited by Ikhhlaq Singh Aujla, newsdesk@spglobal.com