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Belgium extends operation of nuclear power plants for another 10 years

Tihange nuclear power plant in Belgium. (Photo: Global Look Press)

Under the plan proposed nearly 20 years ago, the nuclear power plant This will be phased out by 2025.

Everyone knows there is war in Europe, we choose certainty in uncertain times“, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said at a press conference on March 18.

After Russia launched a military campaign in Ukraine, the EU announced a plan to cut its dependence on gas of Russia this year, thereby ending its complete dependence on this fuel by 2030.

Under the original plan proposed in 2003, Belgium was supposed to build a gas plant north of Brussels and shut down the French-run Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear power plants in 2016. 2025.

The lifespan of the two nuclear power plants, which have been in operation since 1985, “could be extended by 10 years”, Prime Minister De Croo announced in his speech.

Prime Minister De Croo also announced that Belgium will accelerate the transition to renewable energy, although he did not specify which type of energy. The two nuclear power plants Tihange and Doel, which provide 35% of the country’s nuclear energy capacity, located in the east of Belgium and the Antwerp region, generate 1,038 and 1,039 Megawatts, respectively.

Belgium extends the operation of nuclear power plants for another 10 years - Photo 1.

The Belgian government had previously agreed in principle to close its two nuclear power plants by 2025. (Image: Reuters)

In 2021, the Belgian government confirmed that it will close all nuclear plants on Belgian territory for the next three years. However, at the time, the country planned to look at other forms of nuclear energy with the goal of being able to open smaller-scale nuclear power plants.

Specifically, the Belgian government is interested in nuclear power plants with smaller modules that, although generating less electricity than current plants, are also less likely to cause a meltdown disaster, in when any potential problems can be more easily remedied.

Belgium’s two nuclear power plants have a total of seven reactors, all operated by the French utility company Engie. While neighboring France considers nuclear power “green” and gets 70% of its energy from nuclear power plants, neighboring Germany does not and initially plans to close all power plants. nuclear power by the end of 2022 under an agreement signed after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

However, regarding the conflict in Ukraine, Germany is considering shutting down its nuclear power plants. Currently, three nuclear power plants are still operating, and Germany’s state economic ministers have called for a review of the plan to close the plants.

In practice, however, the process of shutting down nuclear power plants has been and is progressing to such an extent that, even if the German Government chooses to keep nuclear power plants open, It will take another 18 months before plants can resume operations due to shortages of trained personnel and difficulty getting the fuel they need. Accordingly, factories must temporarily shut down at least until the winter of 2023 – 2024.

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