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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Introduction Part 2: the hidden costs of conventional electricity generation in Spain

We had seen the cost of electricity is in the market. Now it needs to be analyzed two hidden costs, but paid by the taxpayers: The contamination and the risk insurance.

Economic costs of waste from conventional power
Due to gaseous contamination Spain will pay according to some estimates up to € 10,000 million between 2008 and 2012 ( pose-a-spain-cost-of-a-mas-de-10000-million-euros-for-second experto.html). In fact Spain is now buying allowances from Eastern Europe now ( These costs are initially not paid by companies (although they will in a few years) and this is covered by the government directly. This cost is due to the excess CO2 emissions of Spain in general, not just the electricity sector.
As for nuclear waste management right now the cost of it is literally incalculable. Unlike in the polluting emissions that are only paid for their release (and only once) in nuclear waste, because we don’t have a definitive solution, it is not paid for his release, but is paid for its storage, which causes each year a payment for every kilogram of nuclear waste. If a radioactive waste lasts a million years (and these figures and higher happen in the nuclear waste) each year will have to pay for each Kg of nuclear waste, so something apparently cheap it becomes really very expensive over the years, and keep in mind that each year there is more waste. After all, if Spain meet tomorrow Kyoto immediately finish to pay their fines. But nuclear waste inevitably will continue to pay year after year, although it stops all sources of generation of nuclear waste, century after century, millennium after millennium. Millions of years after millions of years.

The sources of nuclear propaganda are saying that the nuclear waste issue is almost solved, but the reality is that Spain has plans to build a temporary store able to hold up nuclear waste for about 100 years ( / not-soc/cuestiones/0506/17115450.htm). "The president of Enresa (the state owned company that manages nuclear waste) Jose Alejandro Pina, announced that ATC (Temporary Centralized Storage) is the solution to high activity radioactive waste, which could remain in the store between 80 and 100 years, during which they’ll investigate how to reduce its volume and its radioactivity. The ATC would have too a research center "

So, 53 years after the start of the first commercial nuclear power plant, nobody has an idea about what to do with the nuclear waste and the only can have for the future is expectations of being able to reduce waste within 80 or 100 years. So even in a 100 years more there isn’t expectation to solve this terrible issue and a clear mortgage for the coming generations. Management nuclear waste in Spain (10 nuclear plants, 8 operating right now) until the year 2070 is expected to cost 13,018 million € ( If it is decided in the future to build more nuclear plants, the cost of decommissioning would not be included in this fund and will increase its value quite significantly. At this time is being dismantled Vandellós I and just the decommissioning of the plant represents 73% of the radioactive waste generated in Spain. At the end of this plan, from 2070, another plan would need to be funded, because will remain the same amount of the high level radioactive waste. The cost of managing all nuclear waste has been fully funded until 2005 through surcharges on electricity bills (34 years). It is from 2005 where nuclear power plants began to pay directly the waste cost of maintenace and storage management. The National Nuclear Waste Plan can be found here:

Underwriting risk (*)
All power plants are required to have liability insurance to cover any damages that may happen accidentally during their operation. In fact not all the power plants, nuclear plants are an exception because their insurance is partial.
In 2007 the Ministry of Industry presented a draft bill requiring nuclear plants to have liability insurance amounting to 1,200 million €. The ministry, during the draft phase of this act discovered that no insurer wanted to have any responsibility 10 years after the accident, and no insurance company with an office in Spain had enough guarantee, so finally ministry suggested to create a fund financed through the electricity tariff. Finally the act project was cancelled and the insured amount is currently 700 million €.
Así que tenemos que ante el problema de que los seguros no querían, o podían hacerse cargo de cubrir el riesgo que supone una central nuclear, las opciones eran o bien que se encargara el consumidor el que se hiciera cargo del riesgo, o bien, simplemente, no cubrir en su totalidad el riesgo (es decir, pasar de él). So we have to face the problem that the insurance did not want, or couldn’t cover the liability insurance of a nuclear power plant, and the options were either the consumers pays an extra charge for the risk or or simply not cover the full liability. At the end the government choose to not to cover completely the liability.

and includes waste management until that date and also the construction costs of the Temporary Centralized Storage (ATC) and the dismantling of existing nuclear power plants.

(*) Although the information is public, is the journal 'Renewable Energy' in a brilliant article written by Antonio Barrero this month, which has served as a source for this section.

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