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Spain's nuclear regulator approves Cofrentes license renewal


1.1 GW BWR extended to 2030, when due to close

Four of seven licenses successfully renewed to date

Offline Trillo plant suffers small fire during repairs

Barcelona — Spain's nuclear regulator Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear (CSN) has approved the renewal of the operating license of Spain's largest nuclear reactor, the 1.1 GW Cofrentes BWR, operated by Iberdrola, it said Feb. 17.

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The renewal means the Valencia-based plant is licensed to operate for a further nine-and-a-half years to Nov. 30, 2030 -- making it the fourth of seven plants to extend its license since the announcement of a full nuclear closure plan in 2019.

At the expiry of the present license, the plant is due to permanently close.

The regulator said the plant had fulfilled its operational and safety requirements in order to continue, even as it passes 40 years of operation in 2024, an age-limit that has been used in Spain as a benchmark for the "useful life" of a reactor and for cost amortization.

The Cofrentes renewal follows the first renewals in March 2020 of the licenses for the two units at Almaraz -- owned by Iberdrola (53%), Endesa (36%) and Naturgy (11%) -- which were also rolled over for shorter than the usual 10-year period.

The 1.05 GW unit 1 of Almaraz was authorized to operate until Nov. 1, 2027, and the 1.04 GW unit 2 until Oct. 31, 2028, after which they are both scheduled for permanent closure.

Following those, in June 2020, the 1.09 GW Vandellos 2 unit near Tarragona (Endesa 72%, Iberdrola 28%), was granted a full 10-year renewal of the operating license which will take it through to July 2030. Vandellos 2 is scheduled for permanent closure in 2034.

Two more license renewals are due this year for the two units at Asco, both before September.

The 1.0 GW Asco 1, 100%-owned by Endesa, is slated for closure in 2029 and the 1.0 GW Asco 2 (Endesa 85%, Iberdrola 15%) is slated to close in 2033.

The final renewal is due in March 2023 for the 1.1 GW Trillo plant, which is scheduled to close in 2035.

Trillo is currently the only plant offline, having suffered a valve issue on Feb. 16, which forced it onto cold standby until Feb. 21.

However, the plant subsequently suffered a small fire for 15 minutes in the main transformer in the early hours of Feb. 17 which led to an "emergency pre-alert" that lasted for 75 minutes.

Spain's six other plants were operating normally Feb. 18, outputting 6.1 GW through the course of the day, according to grid data.