Belgium to part ways with nuclear plants — Analysis

Belgian authorities have agreed to close their nuclear power stations by 2025. But, it is possible for two more reactors to be extended.

On Thursday, Belgium’s seven-party coalition hammered out an agreement on nuclear power. The deal, which was agreed just a week before the end-of-2021 deadline, will see all the country’s nuclear power plants close by 2025. The agreement was reached by lawmakers after lengthy negotiations that lasted throughout the night. 

As part of the deal, there remains an option to extend the life of two of the country’s seven reactors. Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, stated that it is possible for certain reactors to operate longer. However, he maintained it wasn’t. “very unlikely.”

The agreement brings to an end months of debate within the government, with the Greens demanding that a 2003 law setting out a nuclear exit be respected, and the liberals favoring extending the life of two of the country’s newest reactors.

Belgium expects to complete decommissioning in 2045. The first reactor will close on October 1, 2022.

The country’s two nuclear plants and seven reactors are managed by French power giant Engie. Belgium will follow the German example of closing down nuclear plants, and then phase out all remaining ones.

Belgium now has to address the problem of future energy supply shortfalls. Recently, the permit for the winner of a contract to construct a new gas station in Brussels was revoked. On appeal, the license could be issued by March 15.

Although nuclear power plants have been decommissioned, the government supports a 100-million euro ($113 million) investment in research and development of new technology. The focus is on small modular reactors.

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