Comment & People

Belgium / No One Knows Where We Are Going On Nuclear Energy, Says Business Group CEO

By David Dalton
8 September 2021

No One Knows Where We Are Going On Nuclear Energy, Says Business Group CEO
Belgium’s nuclear power plants, including four units at Doel, are scheduled for closure. Image courtesy Engie.
The head of an influential Belgian business group has said “no one knows where we are going” on nuclear energy and urged political leaders to clarify the situation.

Pieter Timmermans, chief executive officer of the Federation of Enterprises of Belgium, said in Le Soir newspaper that an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in August concluded that maximum effort must be made to reduce CO2 production, “and we, in Belgium, are we going to build gas plants to make up for the closure of the nuclear ones?”

He said he was concerned that Belgium’s independence in the field of energy might not be guaranteed.

Mr Timmermans’ comments came soon after the European commission approved a capacity renumeration mechanism (CRM) in Belgium after concluding the measure does not distort competition in the single market – and despite criticism that it could lead to the construction of additional gas-fired capacity to compensate for a planned nuclear phaseout and make Belgium “one of the most polluting energy producers in Europe”.

Last year it was reported that Engie Electrabel plans to build four new gas-steam plants, with a total capacity of 2,950 MW by 2025 to cover energy needs in Belgium.

This is approximately equivalent to the production of the four nuclear plants at Doel, which will have been closed by then.

Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten said recently that gas is an indispensable link on the road to 100% renewable energy.

Belgium has seven commercial nuclear power units – three at Tihange near Liège and four at Doel near Antwerp.

Belgium’s governing coalition said in October 2020 that it would stand by its predecessors’ plans to shut down the nuclear fleet in 2025 on condition that security of supply will not be affected.

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