The 100th meeting of the Uranium Procurement Commision (CAU) took place on 14 July 2020. Throughout these 100 meetings, there is a history of more than 20 years of collaboration, consensus, excellent management and, in summary, a model of success.
In 1998, the Spanish Electric Companies (Iberdrola S.A., Endesa S.A, Unión Eléctrica Fenosa, S.A (currently Naturgy) and Hidroeléctrica del Cantábrico S.A, (currently EdP)) and ENUSA Industrias Avanzadas, S.A. S.M.E (ENUSA) signed an agreement in which all parties expressly recognized the advantages of carrying out an unified management of the Uranium procurement, regardless of the fuel manufacturing supplier.
ENUSA was then entrusted with the responsibility to carry out all the necessary activities to manage these joint procurements, in accordance with the guidelines set by the Uranium Procurement Commission (CAU). The CAU is the delegation of the Electric Companies, together with representatives of ENUSA, responsible for defining management policies and controlling the activities associated with them. This way, ENUSA began to act as the purchasing pool for enriched Uranium for all Spanish nuclear power plants.
Over the years, one of the great advantages of this unified management has been identified as the purchasing power obtained from covering the needs of nine reactors (reduced to seven after the closure of José Cabrera and Santa María de Garoña). This has promoted ENUSA, as the buyer representing the Spanish Electric Companies, to be the second largest in the European enriched Uranium market in terms of volume, only after the French company EdF.
This structure provides benefits of comparable relevance. The main one is the possibility to optimize the management, maximizing the diversification in all possible dimensions: the greater the diversification, the lower the risk of shortage. This is one of the fundamentals on which the CAU’s joint supply model is based: security of supply. Therefore, the CAU establishes the supply management strategies and policies to guarantee that no Spanish reactor has any delay in operation because of problems in the procurement of enriched Uranium. The process includes always seeking the best possible price, thanks to the unified management and the purchasing power.
The CAU has dealt with many changes and challenges during these more than two decades, handled and managed effectively and sometimes, even benefited from them as opportunities. The purchasing pool model that CAU represents has proved in these cases its robustness and ability to adapt, bringing forward the excellent management performed for years.
Times continue to change and it is the moment to face a new era with the decision on the staggered closure of the reactors closer. A revision of the policies and strategies will be necessary not only for supply and purchase management but also for the consumption of safety stocks.
As a summary, the CAU represents a collaborative, transparent, efficient and safe system. An advantageous and versatile approach that provides solutions for all its members in a world in permanent transformation. New scenarios will require new guidelines based, as they have been until now, on collaboration and consensus.