Nuclear power plants to stay open? Engie says ‘no can do’

Power company Engie has informed the Belgian premier that it’s unable to keep the country’s two youngest nuclear power plants, reactors Doel 4 and Tihange 3 open for longer than planned. PM De Croo had decided to request clarification from the company out of concern Belgium could experience a shortfall in its power supplies.

Nuclear power is being phased out in Belgium, but the political agreement allowed for the country’s two youngest nuclear plants to be kept open after the 2025 deadline if power supplies were endangered.

Energy minister Van der Straeten (Flemish green) recently presented a report arguing that the nuclear plants could close, but the Flemish and Francophone liberal and Flemish Christian democrat coalition partners were not convinced.

Power generator Engie now says it’s too late to keep the two youngest plants open after the deadline. Engie points to a five-year preparation period required, study work, consultations with the authorities, the legal process, and investments.  Engie believes it’s too difficult to shorten the five-year preparation period.  Keeping the plants open for a shorter period is also a non-starter.

The company has committed to energy transition making investments in renewables and wishes to build two new gas power plants.  Last month Flemish environment minister Demir (nationalist) refused to issue a licence for the construction of a new gas plant on an existing site in Vilvoorde (Flemish Brabant).  Engie now commits itself to reapplying for a licence.

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