Keeping nuclear plants open longer threatens to cost Belgium some €1.5 billion

Keeping nuclear power plants open longer could cost the Belgian government around 1.5 billion euros because electricity prices are falling faster than expected. According to Het Laatste Nieuws, this is the conclusion of a report prepared by the international investment bank Lazard on behalf of the government.

If current electricity prices persist in the coming years, the life extension of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 will cost Belgium around 146 million euros per year. Over the entire ten-year period, this amounts to almost 1.5 billion euros.

Guaranteed price

This is a consequence of the agreement that the government signed with the French energy company Engie last year to make Belgium more energy independent (video). Under the agreement, the operator of Belgium's nuclear power plants will receive a guaranteed price for the electricity it produces. If the electricity is sold for more, the surplus goes to the Belgian state. If it is sold for less, the Belgian government makes up the difference.

The threshold was set at 81 euros per MWh, and the government assumed that the price of electricity would not fall below this level until 2028. Today, however, the wholesale market is paying only 64 euros per MWh for 2027. Experts believe that electricity prices are likely to fall further in the coming years. In a worst-case scenario, costs could rise to 1.8 billion euros.

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In response, the cabinet of Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten said that the guaranteed price received by Engie was cost-based and therefore showed, first and foremost, that nuclear energy is not as cheap as some claim. At the same time, the cabinet points out that the agreement with Engie was intended to make Belgium more energy independent. However, this independence now threatens to come at a high price.



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