Nuclear Phase Out Linked To Emissions Hike

A report released by Belgium’s Federal Planning Bureau concludes that the nuclear phase-out passed into law in 2003 and re-affirmed on two occasions (in 2015 and 2018) will cause harmful greenhouse gas emissions to rise.

Doel NPPThe phase-out, which is scheduled to be complete by 2026, will prematurely close seven nuclear power plants, three at Tihange and four at Doel, which will be replaced, primarily, by natural gas-powered plants. It will also cause a spike in energy imports, the report says.

Currently, Belgium energy imports amount to a net zero-sum. It is expected to rise to 9 percent by 2026 when the phase-out is completed.

Natural gas, as a percentage of the country’s electricity mix, will rise from 19 percent in 2021 to 28 percent in 2023 and to 56 percent in 2026. Renewables in the same period will only rise by 3 percentage points from 27 percent of the mix today to 30 percent by 2026.

“In 2023 and 2026 there will be a more pronounced increase in emissions due to higher electricity production from gas-powered stations as a result of the phased cessation of the nuclear power plants,” the report says.

Belgium’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped, along with broader economic activity, during the first year of the pandemic (in 2020) and have reached a level 17 percent below that of 1990, according to Nuclear Engineering International. With the increased reliance on gas-powered plants and imports, the 17 percent improvement is expected to decline to a 9 percent improvement, the report says. 

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