Nuclear power strengthened its relevant role in the energy transition in 2021
April 27, 2022

Nuclear power strengthened its relevant role in the energy transition in 2021

Foro Nuclear presents its annual report “Nuclear results of 2021 and perspectives for the future” (executive summary in English), which showcases the essential contribution of nuclear power to the electric system in Spain, the main activities of our member companies and the most noteworthy events in the nuclear field around the world.

The Spanish nuclear fleet operated under maximum security safeguards, assuring a firm and continuous electric supply

During a year that was once again complicated by the pandemic and started with an extreme meteorological event, storm Filomena, the Spanish nuclear fleet operated under maximum security safeguards, assuring a firm and continuous electric supply and contributing towards the stability of the electric grid.

Although six of the seven nuclear power plants in operation carried out programmed refuelling outages –longer than usual, due to the preventive Covid-19 measures– 20.8% of the electricity produced in Spain in 2021 came from nuclear. Specifically, the net electric energy produced by the seven operating nuclear reactors amounted to 54,040 GWh. Nuclear power, which has operated in Spain for half a century, is the only technology that has been producing one fifth of the electricity consumed for ten consecutive years.

Relevant data on nuclear power in Spain and around the world in 2021
Produccion y potencia por fuentes en Espana en 2021

Considering that the installed nuclear power in our country is only 6.3% of the total, in 2021 nuclear was once again the source that operated at full power for the highest number of equivalent hours. It also prevented the release of almost 20 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. Last year, nuclear production contributed to 30.36% of the emissions-free electricity in our country; for this reason, assures Ignacio Araluce, President of the Spanish Nuclear Industry Forum, it is “essential in the fight against climate change.”

We should also point out the renewals in 2021 of operating licenses for the reactors in Ascó I & II (Tarragona) and Cofrentes (Valencia) within the framework of the goals established by the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) 2021-2030, where nuclear power plays a key role in the energy transition implemented in Spain.

Dates of authorization of operation

The excellent nuclear results from 2021 were a result of the commitment, experience and engagement of all the companies that encompass the Spanish nuclear industry, as well as the training and dedication of their workers. Every day, nuclear workers ensure the safe, reliable and efficient operation of our sites, and this also qualifies them to work in numerous international projects. Nuclear power in our country enjoys international recognition. Along with the national business, it exports products, services and cutting-edge technology to over 40 countries.

Internationally, the proposal presented at the end of 2021 by the European Commission (EC) to include nuclear power in the taxonomy mechanisms is highly relevant. The EC acknowledges nuclear power as a necessary technology for the transition towards a new energy model, and for the attainment of environmental goals. Ignacio Araluce considers that “it is very positive for the whole of the nuclear sector to rely on this institutional support, since reality shows that, to reach the energy and climate goals set forth by the European Union, we must continue to rely on nuclear power as a source capable of operating 24/7 and offering security of supply and energy independence without releasing polluting gases or particles to the atmosphere.”

The European Commission acknowledges nuclear power as a necessary technology for the transition towards a new energy model

Reactores nucleares en el mundo por paises

In this sense, several European countries such as Belgium, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic have announced that, in order to reduce their emissions and improve their energy independence, they will continue to operate their nuclear power plants in the long term or build new ones. 

There are 442 nuclear reactors in operation and 56 in construction around the world. Many more are planned, along with a firm commitment to Small Modular Reactors. In Foro Nuclear we are celebrating this impulse and support to nuclear power as we celebrate 60 years of dedication to placing value on the whole of the Spanish nuclear industry and to inform on the relevant source of this source of electric generation, both energetically and environmentally.