Belgium approves the long-term operation of two of its nuclear power plants
January 12, 2023

Belgium approves the long-term operation of two of its nuclear power plants

Belgian reactors Doel 4 and Tihange 3 will continue to operate for ten more years.

The Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander de Croo, held a press conference on 9 January where he announced the agreement with the French electric company Engie and its Belgian affiliate Electrabel —of which it also owns 100% of shares— for the extension of the operation of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors for a further ten years (until 2036).

This decision to approve the long-term operation of its reactors reverses the Belgian Government's previous plan to shut down all its nuclear power plants between 2022 and 2025. With this new decision, mechanisms are being put in place to guarantee energy supply with reliable sources in the current situation with exponential increases of energy prices caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Over 50% of Belgian electricity comes from the country's six operating reactors

50% of electric production in Belgium comes from nuclear power

The Belgian nuclear fleet, which is currently composed of six units after reactor 3 of the Doel Nuclear Power Plant was shut down in September 2022 within the framework of a law approved in 2023, has historically produced around 50% of the electricity consumed in the country. Specifically, in 2021 (according to the last available data), the nuclear fleet provided 50.8% of Belgian electricity.

The long-term operation of two of the six operating reactors in Belgium answers to the need to guarantee the country's electric supply

Doel unit 4 and Tihange unit 3 are equipped with pressurized water reactors (PWR) with an installed net power of 1,038 MWe. They started their commercial operation in July and September 1985, respectively; with the new extension they will operate for fifty years.

Since March 2022, when it was decided to extend the operation to guarantee the country's supply of electricity, both parties have been negotiating the terms of the agreement. One of the main terms is the creation of a joint company (50/50) between the Belgian state and Engie for the future management of both units.

Many countries are embracing the long-term operation of their nuclear power plants to provide stability and guarantee of supply for their electric system

Belgium approves the long-term operation of two of its nuclear power plants

These two reactors now add to the 190 nuclear reactors that have been granted authorization for long-term operation by the regulating authorities of 18 different countries.

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