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Belgium overturns nuclear phase-out plan

Posted January. 11, 2023 07:45,   

Updated January. 11, 2023 07:45


Belgium, which pronounced nuclear exit 20 years ago, has decided to extend the life of its major nuclear reactors by another 10 years, overturning a plan to exit nuclear power in 2025, as the energy crisis intensifies with Russia’s weaponization of energy resources against sanctions by the West.

According to Reuters, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Monday that Belgium reached an agreement with a French utility to extend the life of two of its seven nuclear reactors, the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors, by 10 years. The two reactors, which generate 35 percent of the country’s nuclear-powered electricity, were planned to be disconnected in 2025. Still, their operation will be extended by 10 more years from November 2026 after going through a necessary safety check. The prime minister said that the extensions of the two reactors were indispensable for the nation’s energy security.

Back in 2003, Belgium announced that it would phase out all nuclear reactors by 2025. Unit 3 at the Doel nuclear power plant began to be shut down last year. The Belgian energy administration warned that the country would face a significant power shortage in the winter of 2026 to 2027 without the nuclear extension. However, as the U.S.-led Western bloc imposed sanctions against Russia upon its invasion of Ukraine in February last year, Russia started to reduce natural gas supplies to Europe, which heightened the energy crisis across Europe.

Germany and Sweden, which were at the forefront of nuclear phase-out, are also extending the operation of their nuclear reactors. Germany decided to extend the life of three nuclear reactors, which had been due to close last year, through April this year. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told French President Emmanuel Macron last Tuesday that Sweden needs to buy two nuclear power reactors.