Nuclear Politics

Belgium / Poll Shows Considerable Swing In Popular Support For Nuclear

By David Dalton
30 March 2022

Government has already decided to extend life of Doel-4 and Tihange-3
Poll Shows Considerable Swing In Popular Support For Nuclear
The Doel nuclear power station, where the lifetime of one reactor is being extended. Courtesy Engie.
A new poll reveals that only 9% of Belgians would support an immediate closure of commercial nuclear power plants in the country – a considerable swing in popular support for the power source with 15% backing a complete withdrawal from nuclear energy just three months ago.

Le Soir newspaper said its Grand Barometer survey shows a shift in attitude for Belgians, who are increasingly pro-nuclear energy.

Out of 2,614 people surveyed, the strongest support for a full closure is in Brussels with 14%, Wallonia in second with 12%, while in Flanders it is only 7%. Belgium’s seven reactors are at two nuclear stations – Doel in Flanders and Tihange in Wallonia

The most popular plan is the construction of new smaller nuclear power reactors, which appeals to 43% of Belgians compared to 33% three months ago.

Le Soir said that in light of Europe’s ongoing energy crisis, questions about the provision of energy and the need for a secure supply have seen shifts in political and public support for nuclear energy.

The poll echoes recent research from Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) that concluded “a general shift in attitudes towards nuclear energy and power in general is taking place”.

The poll was carried out soon after the government decided it would negotiate with energy company Engie to extend the life of the Doel-4 and Tihange-3 nuclear plants for 10 more years.

Belgium had previously declared it would phase out nuclear power by 2025.

The government cited “a chaotic geopolitical environment” as the war in Ukraine disrupts energy markets across the European Union.

It also signalled its interest in small modular nuclear reactors and said it will invest €25m a year in this field for the next four years.

Despite the resurgence of support for nuclear energy, there is still a belief that Belgium’s nuclear plants should be phased out eventually.

Among those surveyed, 30% expressed support for the extension of Doel-4 and Tihange-3, but still support the long-term goal of phasing out all nuclear energy eventually.

Belgium’s seven reactors provide almost 40% of its electricity production, the sixth highest percentage in the world.

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