Group exhorts Belgium to rethink nuclear phaseout
September 07, 2021

Group exhorts Belgium to rethink nuclear phaseout

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. Almost 40% of the electricity in Belgium is nuclear. 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 three units (Doel 1 and 2 and Tihange 1, all of which began commercial operation in 1975), it reaffirmed the 2025 phaseout date last September.

The plan of the Belgian Gouvernment is to fase out nuclear energy in 2025

The letter, by Horizon 238, a group composed mostly of young engineers, states that “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.”

The letter adds that “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. The climate priority dictates the need to leave fossil fuels in the ground and to use alternative low-carbon energy sources: renewables are an option for sure; and so is nuclear energy.”

Nuclear energy is the first source of low-carbon energy in Belgium

Ten more years of operation

In the letter, these group of experts in the nuclear field, ask the prime minister “to reconsider the nuclear phase-out. Because it is a low-carbon energy source, nuclear energy must be part of the energy transition roadmap. A ten-year extension of the most recent nuclear reactors goes beyond a reduction of our CO2 emissions. It is the prerequisite for maintaining the Belgian expertise necessary to benefit from technological revolutions that the nuclear sector still has to offer.”