Group exhorts Belgium to rethink nuclear phaseout

August 26, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Engie Electrabel’s four-unit Doel nuclear plant, in East Flanders, Belgium. Units 1, 2, and 4 are to be closed in 2025; Unit 3 is to be shuttered in 2022. (Photo: Torsade de Pointes)

A pronuclear think tank in Belgium has written a letter to the country’s prime minister, Alexander De Croo, urging him to reevaluate the government’s plan to phase out nuclear power generation by 2025 and replace it with gas power.

Belgium’s nuclear fleet consists of seven pressurized water reactors—four units at Doel and three at Tihange. In 2003, legislation was passed limiting the operational lives of those reactors to 40 years and prohibiting new reactor construction. While the government later agreed to prolong the lives of the three oldest units (Doel-1 and -2 and Tihange-1, all of which began commercial operation in 1975), it reaffirmed the 2025 phaseout date last September.

Pleading the case: The letter, by Horizon 238, a group composed mostly of young engineers, states in part, “The government’s decision to phase out nuclear energy—the first source of low-carbon energy in Belgium—and to finance new fossil gas power plants through the capacity remuneration mechanism is therefore paradoxical and counterproductive. This decision would only reinforce the predominance of fossil fuels in the Belgian energy landscape. The belief that nuclear power plants need to be shut down for renewable energy to be developed is simply a false dilemma. Other countries such as Finland, the United Kingdom, and Canada have chosen to build their energy transition on these two low-carbon energy sources.”

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