Tomorrow's federal report may endorse nuclear extension in Belgium

A report expected on Wednesday, 7 December, should point to an energy supply risk for winter 2025 in Belgium. The Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten puts forward the idea of saving fuel in the spring to have it in winter, "which suggests a new 'micro' extension of nuclear reactors", reveal papers this morning.

In October, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Van der Straeten commissioned a special report from the Belgian network operators Elia (electricity) and Fluxys (gas) to analyse energy security supply this winter and until 2030. The reports are now ready. A special council of ministers (kern) is scheduled to examine the documents tomorrow evening. The government is currently negotiating with the operator Engie to extend "Doel 4" and "Tihange 3" reactors by ten years.

"Tihange 2" nuclear reactor will continue to produce electricity until January 31 at midnight. After that, the reactor will be permanently disconnected from the grid, a spokesperson for Engie Electrabel confirmed. It will be out of the network on February 1, 2023.

After the closure of "Doel 3" on September 23 and "Tihange 2", Belgium will only have five nuclear power plants. For the moment, the remaining factories are legally scheduled to close in 2025.

The negotiations between the Belgian government and Engie/Electrabel on the conditions for the life extension are approaching the deadline of 31 December.

Germany and France

Keeping the two nuclear reactors open for a few months more in 2025-2026 should prevent possible disruptions in the electricity supply from France and Germany, highlights the Belgian newspaper "De Standaard".

The French energy park is only at 55 per cent of its capacity, way below the average capacity of recent years. Electricity supplies are also becoming tense in Germany due to the closure of the last nuclear power stations, high gas prices and the early exit from coal.

No problem in 2022-2023

The winter of 2025-2026 is so far the only one in which the electricity supply in Belgium could become problematic. "This winter, there will be no problem," considers De Standaard. It can become tense in the winter of 2024-2025, if four French nuclear power plants are shut down. Two solutions are on the table: an additional auction in October next year for low-carbon technologies such as battery farms and the temporary request to reduce electricity consumption.



Belgian Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten © BELGA PHOTO (JASPER JACOBS)

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