Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) afirma que España se dispone a reabrir el debate nacional sobre la energía nuclear. Y recuerda que la primera planta nuclear española fue construida por Franco con el fin de conseguir la tecnología que le permitiese fabricar armas atómicas.
Wall Street Journal recuerda que las 153 centrales nucleares existentes en los 25 Estados de la UE aseguran el 40 % de la energía consumida en Europa.
Esta es la crónica del Wall Street Journal:
Spain Debates Nuclear-Power Decision
Government Weighs.- A Phase-Out Pledge.- Against Energy Woes
By ANDRÉS CALA
May 4, 2006
MADRID.- With the decommissioning of Spain's first nuclear-power plant under way, the government is debating whether to fulfill its promise of phasing out nuclear energy in the middle of an energy crunch or to back away from the promise and face overwhelming opposition from Spaniards.
Sunday marked the last operational day for the 150-megawatt José Cabrera Nuclear Power Plant, Spain's first nuclear reactor, which was inaugurated in 1968 by Francisco Franco as part of the dictator's quest to build a nuclear bomb.
The decommissioning comes two weeks before conclusions of a government-led nuclear roundtable are released and follows a five-month discussion on the future of nuclear energy in Spain.
Conclusions from the roundtable — representing interests from nuclear lobbyists and electric utilities to environmentalists, municipalities and civic groups — will weigh heavily on a decision by the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on whether to honor a campaign pledge to phase out nuclear energy or to rethink a de facto 23-year-old moratorium on new power plants.
Like the rest of Europe, the U.S. and most industrialized nations, Spain is reconsidering its nuclear-energy policy as a result of record-high oil prices, mounting dependence on foreign energy sources and concerns about global warming and security of supply — especially amid the war in Iraq, the West's standoff with Iran about its own nuclear ambitions and European concerns over Russia's reliability as an energy partner.
"We don't think nuclear energy is the silver bullet, but it is part of the solution," said Fatih Birol, chief economist of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, the 26-member energy watchdog of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. "This is the message we want to give our member countries and the developing world."
In all, 27 nuclear-power plants are under construction world-wide, according to World Nuclear Association, a London-based lobby group. Finland is building a plant, France plans to build a reactor and the Czech Republic and Bulgaria have plans for an additional two each. The U.S. has extended the life of some of its power plants.
But public opinion is the biggest obstacle to building nuclear-power plants in most European countries, according to environmental groups and the European nuclear industry. Only 4% of Spaniards support using nuclear power to trim the country's dependence on imports, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey from the European Commission, released earlier this year.
Across the European Union, support for nuclear power is at about 12%, despite the fact 153 nuclear-power plants in 15 of the EU's 25 member states generate about 40% of Europe's electricity.
Eduardo González, president of Foratom, the Brussels-based trade association of Europe's nuclear industry, said the cost of closing Spain's power plants would be about €60 billion ($75.73 billion) over 20 years. Mr. González, who sits on Spain's nuclear-roundtable committee, added, "The government doesn't want to set its position because of politics or make a decision that will have irreversible damage on the economy."
But Spain's vulnerability to energy-supply disruptions is more pronounced than for the rest of Europe. Spain depends on foreign sources for about 80% of its energy needs, making it the most import-dependent country in Europe, according to Spain's electricity utilities association Unesa. About 50% of its electricity needs are fulfilled by foreign sources, and less than 4% of Spain's energy supply comes from gas and electric interconnections with the rest of the continent.
Spain is Europe's fastest-growing electricity consumer, with demand rising more than 60% since 1996; 4.2% of that this past year.
Most Spaniards support the use of renewable energy to address energy concerns, but generating one megawatt-hour of electricity using nuclear energy costs about a quarter of the price of using renewable sources. Additionally, Spain is required under the Kyoto Protocol to cut its carbon-dioxide emissions. Spain is exceeding its 2008 target emissions by 50%. "It seems nuclear is the only technology which could provide a bulk answer to CO2 emissions," Mr. Birol said.
Scant support for nuclear energy is the result of a fear of nuclear accidents and contamination from nuclear waste, according to Carlos Bravo, director of Greenpeace's antinuclear campaign in Spain. This year's Eurobarometer survey on energy found 75% of Europeans aren't well informed about nuclear waste. Spain is one of the least-informed countries, with 15% of people saying they are adequately informed on the subject.
While Spain's nuclear-weapons ambitions died after the country returned to democracy in 1976, the first elected government set in place plans for 49 nuclear reactors to tackle soaring power demand and reduce the country's reliance on imports. But in 1983, a combination of falling oil prices, opposition to nuclear power and the political left's commitment to distance itself from Gen. Franco's legacy led the country's first Socialist government to scrap new power plants, including five under construction, and limit the country's nuclear portfolio to 10 power plants. Since then, one plant was closed after a fire, and of the nine remaining, the José Cabrera plant in Almonacid de Zorita, about 115 kilometers east of Madrid, is the first to be decommissioned.
In a parliamentary debate last week, Mr. Zapatero said the roundtable's conclusions will help define the future of nuclear energy in Spain. But he reminded Congress that nuclear power supplied close to 20% of the country's electric needs in 2005, hinting he won't commit to a timetable for phasing out existing nuclear plants. Santa Maria de Garoña nuclear plant in Burgos is the next plant scheduled for decommissioning in 2009, though its permit is expected to be extended.
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