Belgium’s nuclear reactors will no longer use Russian uranium

Energy company Engie Electrabel will no longer use uranium from Russia to operate its Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear reactors after 2025, De Tijd reports. The company, which has concluded the necessary contracts through its subsidiary Synatom, will only use Western fuel suppliers and will exclude all uranium of Russian origin, according to Synatom’s annual report.

Russia has a 40 per cent global market share in nuclear fuel enrichment. Following a series of discussions since the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Engie has now decided not to conclude any more contracts with Russian companies for the supply, processing and enrichment of uranium. 

“The last deliveries from Russia came at the end of 2021,” spokesperson Hellen Smeets told De Tijd. “Additionally, we are no longer working with Russian companies for the conversion of uranium – an intermediate step to enrich it.”

Market under pressure

Doel 4 and Tihange 3, the newest of Belgium's seven reactors, were originally scheduled to be shut down in 2025. The shutdown was a demand from green parties Ecolo and Groen, but the war in Ukraine and rising energy prices saw them agree to a 10-year life extension.

Engie has secured enough supply to run the two power plants for the next 10 years. With the selected Western suppliers, including companies in Canada and Australia, it says it has been able to achieve sufficient geographical spread.

The market has come under severe pressure as many players look for alternatives to Russian uranium. Prices have almost doubled in a year, and the cost of processing and enrichment have increased by more than 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, Engie is moving its Belgian headquarters from the North quarter of Brussels to the centre of the capital, it announced on Thursday.

The move will take place in 2026, with 4,000 employees transferring to OXY, the former Mint Centre between Place de la Monnaie and Place De Brouckère, which is currently being renovated. The move is part of Engie’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2045.


Federal ministers visit the Tihange nuclear plant in Huy, Liège province, July 2023 © BELGA PHOTO POOL SERCH CARRIERE

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