Belgium Plans Tihange 3 And Doel 4 Reprieve

Belgium’s government on Friday announced a postponement of the nuclear power phase out that was officially sanctioned in 2003 despite objections from Engie, the owner and operator of the seven reactors in the country.

Doel NPPWith the phase out long established and reactor dismantling already moving forward, Engie warned of increased risks associated with Belgium’s postponement which was linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has driven energy prices significantly higher in Europe and around the world.

“This extension should make it possible to strengthen the independence of our country regarding fossil fuels in a chaotic geopolitical context,” said Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexandre De Croo in a statement.

But Engie reacted quickly to the decision announce Friday. “The decision to extend the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 power plants raises significant safety, regulation and implementation constraints, especially since this extension would take place even though the dismantling activities in neighboring units will have started,” the company said.

Russia’s stronghold on Europe is made clear by its role in supplying Europe with 40 percent of its natural gas. As such, the war in Ukraine has challenged Europe to push towards greater autonomy or independence regarding power supplies. Calls for increased investments in renewable energy have found receptive audiences. In addition, countries like France and Germany are rethinking their plans for a nuclear power phase out.

Prior to the postponement Tihange 3 and Doel 4, a 1020MW reactor and a 1090MW reactor, respectively, were to close in 2025. The reprieve pushes their closures back to 2035, although Engie could effectively veto the postponement if they do not approve of the move on safety concerns.

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