The Council of Ministers approved this Tuesday the draft law to limit the benefits of nuclear and hydroelectric plants due to the increase in CO2 emission rights , a cut for large electricity companies that amounts to more than 1,000 million euros ( if the CO2 price is maintained at the current price) and that represents around 25% of the income that these plants receive on average.
“There are a little more than 1,000 million euros a year that go directly to the accounts of the companies and we think that a part of these benefits should go to reduce the electricity bill,” said the Vice President and Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera . This estimate would mean a reduction in the electricity bill of between 4.8% for domestic consumers and 1.5% for large industry, according to sources from the Ministry for the Ecological Transition.
This reduction in the carbon dividend will affect only non-emitting plants prior to 2005 that sell energy in the market because that year was when that CO2 market began, therefore, according to Ribera, “no plant has taken into account in their accounting this cost of CO2 when making investment decisions “.
Last month, domestic consumers paid the highest bill of the year due to the rise in the price of CO2 emission rights in international markets and it is not foreseeable that the price of CO2 will decrease in the coming months .
The price of CO2 has grown by 150% in the last year, while 90% of the Spanish electricity system does not generate CO2, an incongruity that occurs because the Spanish market is marginal , that is, the latest technology to match supply and demand is the one that sets the price for the rest, therefore, if the last to enter are the combined cycles(they burn natural gas) that are affected by CO2, the rest of the technologies benefit from that price. Among them, the nuclear and hydraulic owners.
The destination of those 1,000 million euros will be divided between the social bond , to which 10% of the total collected will be allocated, and to reduce the charges for renewable premiums (RECORE), included within the regulated costs of the receipt (the 90% remaining), amounting to a total of 6,500 million euros.
In this way, the measure greases perfectly with the National Fund for the Sustainability of the Electricity System (FNSSE), known as the ‘green’ fund , which has been approved as a bill also this Tuesday and which plans to eliminate these premiums from the receipt. to renewables charged to all energy companies, although oil companies are the ones that have to pay the highest proportion (43.7%), compared to gas companies (24.80%) and electricity companies (31.50%).
Therefore, with the income from carbon dividends, these companies will have to assume a lower amount , especially in the first years, according to sources from the Executive.
Both measures would mean a 15% reduction in electricity bills, according to sources from the Ministry for the Ecological Transition.
Companies most affected
The companies most affected are Iberdrola and Endesa , which are the companies with the most hydroelectric and nuclear power plants, respectively, although this decision also affects Naturgy and Acciona. Industry sources told EL PERIÓDICO after the announcement that this measure is a “market intervention” whose implementation could be a brake on the deployment of new technologies proposed in the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC), but Ribera reminded them that the differential between nuclear and hydraulic profitability and cost is very wide and “this represents only a part of the extra profitability they receive”.
Specifically, this mechanism involves eliminating 90% of the benefits from the carbon dividend, but 10% of this concept is maintained, as well as the extra amount they receive for the rise in natural gas that also affects combined cycles.
Regarding the possibility that this decision of the Government could accelerate the closure of the nuclear park (scheduled between 2027 and 2035 according to an agreement of the Government, the companies and ENRESA), Ribera has been clear:
“When the orderly closure schedule was established, the tonne of CO2 was at 20 euros and the megawatt-hour around 50 euros, if the accounts came out then, nothing has changed now. ” In addition, he added that “the system operator (REE) must guarantee whether it is possible to close a plant to be able to have electricity when it is needed.”