Plant Operation

Belgium / Nuclear Sector Expects ‘Urgent’ Decisions On Reactor Fleet LTO Extensions, Says Forum Boss

By Kamen Kraev
12 February 2020

Belgian government deadlock adds uncertainty to nuclear energy policy plans
Nuclear Sector Expects ‘Urgent’ Decisions On Reactor Fleet LTO Extensions, Says Forum Boss
Serge Dauby (far left), director-general of the Belgian Nuclear Forum (BNF), speaking at the '2020. The Next Chapter' event on 10 February. Photo courtesy BNF.
The Belgian nuclear sector needs “real attention” in 2020 from national policy makers who should assume responsibility for a 2025 nuclear phaseout plan by becoming fully aware of its consequences, said Serge Dauby, director-general of the Belgian Nuclear Forum (BNF), at an event organised by the forum in Brussels on Monday.

Mr Dauby called a 2003 political decision to impose a deadline to the operation of the Belgian reactor fleet “emotional” and said politicians should ask themselves the question whether the country has the means to replace nuclear generation by an alternative source available around the clock and free of CO2 emissions.

“We, the nuclear sector, are asking policy makers to take a decision urgently on the operating lifetime extension of a number of units in the Belgian reactor fleet”, Mr Dauby said.

He added the decision is needed to provide a planning horizon for the industry and allow for time to prepare for the “necessary transition.”

Mr Dauby called on policy makers to “assume responsibility based on facts without dogmatism and prejudice” and resolve the nuclear deadlock through “common sense and realism.”

Plans to shut down Belgium’s seven reactor units were established in a law of 2003 and confirmed in 2015 and again in 2018. A commission was appointed to assess the impact of the phaseout, scheduled to be completed in 2025, but no findings have been announced.

A new government elected in 2019 was expected to mull on the decision, but since the general elections of 26 May 2019, political parties have been unable to form a federal government.

In July 2019, Elia said the country will need around 3.9 GW of new power generating capacity to cope with the shortage which is expected to arise from the nuclear phaseout.

Belgium’s fleet of seven commercial plants – three at Tihange near Liège and four at Doel near Antwerp – generated 56% of the country’s electricity in 2019 at a 79% load factor, data by Elia shows.

Nuclear operator Engie has confirmed plans to retire Doel-3 and Tihange-2 in 2022 and 2023, irrespective of the government’s final decision. Negotiations on the remaining units are pending.

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