Belgian government continues negotiations with Engie on nuclear lifetime extensions
The Belgian federal government and Engie failed to reach an agreement on extending the lifetime of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear reactors before the turn of the year. Despite ongoing talks until the last day of 2022, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) said more time is needed to reach an agreement. Negotiations will continue in the coming days.
The Belgian prime minister and energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Green) have been negotiating with the French energy giant on the lifetime extension of the reactors for several months to ensure electricity supplies. The government says that "a lot of progress has been made in recent days on some crucial points". Nevertheless, more time is needed to reach an agreement that fully satisfies both sides.
The aim remains to reach an agreement within a short period that would extend the lifetime of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors by ten years.
On 18 March, the government decided to extend two reactors' lifetime beyond 2025 to ensure supplies. However, this required starting negotiations with the nuclear power plant's operator, the French group Engie.
Just before the summer recess, the government and Engie already concluded a "non-binding letter of intent" on the extension of the youngest two nuclear power plants. These will be put into a separate company, of which Engie and the government will each own half. However, day-to-day management will remain in the hands of the energy giant.
The agreement now being worked on should allow Engie and the nuclear watchdog Fanc to start preparations as soon as possible to keep Doel 4 and Tihange 3 open for ten more years from 2026. The negotiations are very complex, with the pros and cons of the extension being mapped out.
More clarity is also needed on how much money Engie has to set aside to dispose of past waste. Engie wants a maximum bill. However, it is not easy to set this already as long as it is unclear how and where the nuclear waste will be disposed of.