Comment & People

Belgium / Poll Shows Two-Third Majority Supports Long Term Operation Of Nuclear

By Kamen Kraev
14 June 2022

Geopolitical and supply pressures force halt to phaseout plans
 Poll Shows Two-Third Majority Supports Long Term Operation Of Nuclear
Belgium has reviewed its plans for a nuclear phaseout by 2025, giving a 10-year extension to the two newest reactor units in its fleet. Image courtesy Flickr/Thomas Quine.
A new poll has shown that about two thirds of Belgians support nuclear power as part of the national energy mix even beyond 2025, a deadline which had been set for a general phaseout but was recently abolished by the government.

The poll, conducted among about 1,000 participants for the Belgian Nuclear Forum, found that 66% of respondents want nuclear plants to remain operational in the long run, 16% would like plants to be closed in 2025 and 9% want an immediate phaseout.

Additionally, 72% said they see nuclear power as part of the solution to climate change, while 74% said “the nuclear industry of the future” has a great potential for development.

Asked about the ideal energy mix for Belgium, 72% chose a mix of nuclear power and renewables, up from 60% in a similar poll from 2020.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they believed nuclear waste is currently “managed well” in Europe, while 72% described security of energy supply as the leading benefit of nuclear power, up from 65% in 2020.

Belgium has a fleet of seven reactor units – four at Doel in Flanders and three at Tihange in Wallonia – which in 2021 provided 40% of the country’s electricity production, the sixth highest percentage in the world.

A Belgian federal law of 2003 required the phaseout of all nuclear electricity generation in the country. The law was amended in 2013 and 2015 to provide for the Tihange-1, Doel-1 and Doel-2 reactors to remain operational until 2025.

The current coalition government formed in late 2021 had confirmed plans to proceed with a phaseout of existing reactors by 2025 but kept open the option of extending the lifetime of two reactors to ensure energy supply.

In early March 2022, in light of the Ukraine war and goals to reduce fossil fuel dependency, the government decided to take steps to extend 2 GW of nuclear capacity at Tihange-3 and Doel-4 by 10 years, until 2035.

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