The shutdown of three nuclear power plants simultaneously It is turning upside down the counterweight game of electricity generation in Spain and is doing so in the midst of a spiral of energy price rises. The work for the refueling of these nuclear plants had been scheduled well in advance and with the aim that the three paralyzed plants did not coincide at any time, but for a few days the stops would overlap.
The delay in the work of recharging Disgusted I (Tarragona), which should have finished last Saturday but which will last until Thursday, will make its stop also coincide with that of Cofrentes (Valencia) and with Almaraz I (Cáceres) for at least three or four days this week.
The nuclear stoppage is not translating into a surge in the Electricity prices, which have remained relatively stable, but persistently above 200 euros per megawatt hour (MWh). But the lack of some 3,500 MW of nuclear power in operation is causing electricity generation from gas plants to skyrocket to replace all that lost production.
In recent days, the weight of electricity production by burning gas has not only become the main source of generation for the national mix, but also has shot up to almost 40% of total production in Spain, according to the daily records of Red Eléctrica (REE), the operator of the electrical system.
Last Monday – last day with the records updated at the close of this edition – the production of electricity by the combined cycle power plants (natural gas) accounted for 39.5% of all electricity generation in the country, compared to 22% for wind farms or only 13% for nuclear plants. In the previous days, the weight of gas in electricity generation ranged between 38 and 41% of total production.
The weight of burning gas to produce electricity has skyrocketed in recent days. 40% of combined cycle production is well above the 25% that these plants focus so far in November and the 14% they have accumulated since the start of 2021. The spiral of increases in the price of electricity registered in recent months Its main causes are precisely the increase in the international price of natural gas (at historical highs and which has reached over 100 euros per MWh on several occasions) and CO2 emission rights (in record standing above 60 euros per ton).
MORE CHARCOAL BEFORE CLOSING
Despite the coal power plants The days are numbered in Spain -the electricity companies have already closed or have requested authorization from the Government to be able to close all the country’s coal plants except two-, the burning of coal has been rising for three months in Spain due to the situation of high prices of the gas and electricity. After years of decline, active coal plants have broken the trend and increased their production by 69% in September; the most that doubled in October (+ 124%); and they have increased it by 80% so far in November.
While they wait for the administrative ok to close, the companies are obliged to continue to have their plants available and to present offers to the electricity market to produce if necessary. AND with the electricity market turned upside down and with exorbitant prices natural gas, the thermal power plants that were already preparing only to close in recent months are boosting their production and are pushing Spain to increase coal burning.
Still available for the electricity market are the Endesa plants in As Pontes (A Coruña) and until just a few weeks ago also that of Litoral (Almería); the Viesgo de Los Barrios plant (Cádiz); and the Asturian plants of EDP de Aboño and Soto de Ribera. The weight of coal continues to be much lower in Spanish electricity generation as a whole and has continued to decline in recent years: in 2019 coal plants contributed 4.3% of electricity, in 2020 it was only 2% and until August of this year its weight had dropped to 1.6%. In recent months, it has grown unexpectedly, with contributions between 2.4% and 2.8%.