The Belgian government plans to extend during the winter of 2025-26 three nuclear reactors which were supposed to close in 2025, a source familiar with the matter told AFP.
The objective is not to restart another reactor for ten years, but you have to be pragmatic.
We are studying the possibility of extending reactors for the winter of 2025-2026
, “said this source familiar with the matter to AFP, referring in particular to the uncertain contribution of the French nuclear fleet to the supply of electricity.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo was commissioned to question the operator, the French group Engie, as well as the Belgian nuclear safety authority (AFCN) on the terms of this temporary extension, said this source.
Last year, the government had already decided to extend for ten years, from November 2026, two other reactors in the nuclear fleet, Doel 4, near the port of Antwerp (north) and Tihange 3, in the Liège region. (is).
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This double extension was the subject of an agreement concluded on January 9 between the government and Engie, which will become 50/50 partners in a joint venture for these ten years of additional operation.
The operator of the electricity transmission network in Belgium, the Elia group, has identified a possible supply deficit estimated between 0.9 and 1.2 GW, in the event of consumption peaks during this winter 2025-2026 following the scheduled shutdown of several reactors.
Exiting nuclear power is debated
The short extension envisaged could concern the reactors of Doel 1, Doel 2 and Tihange 1 (supposed to stop producing in 2025), but also Doel 4 and Tihange 3, according to the same source.
Upkeep and maintenance work is theoretically planned for Doel 4 and Tihange 3 during the winter of 2025-26, but this schedule could be adapted in order to maintain their production.
Belgium, which had seven reactors in operation until the summer of 2022, “
” two of them on September 23, 2022 then on January 31, 2023, respectively Doel 3 and Tihange 2 after 40 years of service.
The exit from nuclear power, sealed by a 2003 law during the first participation of environmentalists in the federal government, has created a stir within the Belgian executive since the outbreak of war in Ukraine a year ago.
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Soaring gas prices - against a backdrop of restrictions on Russian hydrocarbon purchases in Europe - and the fear of electricity shortages in Europe prompted the government to negotiate in extremis with Engie the ten-year extension of Tihange 3 and Doel 4, which were also supposed to stop for good in 2025. But this compromise was deemed insufficient by the French-speaking liberals (partners of the ecologists in the majority).
He was also strongly criticized by the Flemish nationalists of the N-VA, the first opposition party.