MADRID Jan 21Spain on Wednesday reaffirmed its
policy of not commissioning new nuclear power plants a day after
its biggest utility unveiled plans to build them in Britain,
while repeating pledges to boost renewables and save energy.
"There will be no new nuclear plants," Industry Minister
Miguel Sebastian told journalists when asked to comment on
Iberdrola's (IBE.MC) joint venture with Scottish and Southern
Energy (SSE.L) to build nuclear power stations.
Sebastian noted that Spanish energy consumption per head was
20 percent above the European average.
"Saving 20 percent would be the equivalent of doubling the
number of nuclear power plants. It seems easier and cheaper to
me," he said.
"Furthermore, it (saving) is immediate, whereas nuclear
plants take 15 years. There is no controversy, no waste or
security problems, nothing," he added.
Spain's government has said it may extend the working lives
of the country's eight ageing nuclear power plants, but has
urged operators to invest more in safety after a controversial
radioactive leak was discovered last year.
Operating permits for seven of the plants are up for renewal
between this year and 2011, or well within the mandate of Jose
Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government.
Spain's nuclear power plants supply about 7,300 megawatts
when all are working normally, or enough to meet about 20
percent of demand for power.
Wind farms now have the capacity to generate more than
16,000 MW due to a boom in renewable energy, but in practice
provide much less because wind speeds are often slow.
(Reporting by Martin Roberts, editing by Anthony Barker)