Electricity

Belgium set to extend operating life of two nuclear reactors

nuclear-reactors

Photo: Engie

Published

June 30, 2023

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Published:

June 30, 2023

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Energy company Engie and the Belgian government have signed an intermediate agreement defining the terms of extending the operating life of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear reactors, with a total capacity of 2 GW. The move, aimed at strengthening the security of electricity supply in Belgium, comes on the heels of last year’s decision to keep the two units running for another ten years.

The agreement, signed following a public consultation process, calls on both parties to use their best efforts to restart the nuclear units by November 2026. Under the 2003 nuclear phaseout act, all nuclear plants in Belgium are set to close by the end of 2025, according to the company’s website.

The deal, however, might apply as early as November 2025 if an announced relaxation of regulations is implemented effectively, which might mean that the reactors will not even be shut down before the planned restart.

The deal envisages balanced risk distribution between Engie and the government

The agreement also defines a business model of the extension with balanced risk allocation between Engie and the government, notably through a contract-for-difference (CfD) mechanism with incentives for the operator.

As a result of the transfer of all nuclear waste liabilities to the Belgian government, Engie will no longer be exposed to the evolution of future costs related to the treatment of waste, according to a press release from the company.

The signature of the definitive agreements is expected at the end of July.

Most EU countries are in favor of nuclear revival

Recently, Sweden changed its electricity mix target from “100% renewable” to “100% fossil-free,” paving the way for new nuclear reactors to be built.

Both Belgium and Sweden are among the large group of European Union (EU) countries that have joined France’s informal pro-nuclear bloc.

Nuclear power is making a comeback in Southeastern Europe as well, notably in Bulgaria and Romania, while Germany, Austria and Luxembourg oppose nuclear revival.

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