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Electricity generation in Belgium

NPPs in Belgium

In the 1960s, Belgium opted for nuclear power generation. Two nuclear power stations were built in Doel and Tihange. They were commissioned between 1975 and 1985. The energy company Electrabel also participates in the power station of the EDF in Chooz, just across the French border.

Nuclear dependent country

Doel and Tihange generate almost 60% of electricity in Belgium, making it Western Europe's second-most nuclear dependent nation after France. Now the government wants to invest in renewable energies and gas power stations.

Planned phase out delayed until 2025

In December 2002 and in January 2003 the Senate and the Parliament have approved the law necessary for the phase-out. Belgium decided to close its nuclear power plants between 2015 and 2025. The lifetime of the Belgian NPPs was therefore said to be limited to a maximum of 40 years, and new reactors are to be built.

"Although the Belgian government decision of December 1988 brought a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants, Electrabel is allowed to upgrade the capacity of its NPPs. These upgrades have increased the total Belgian nuclear generation capacity by 319 MW(e) (or 5.8%) between 1994 and 2002. 48 MWe is due to the steam generator replacement at Tihange 2 in 2001. Moreover, Belgian utilities have a 25% share in the output of the two 1 400 MW(e) French pressurised water reactor units at Chooz. The new Belgian law, imposing a forty year lifetime for nuclear power plants, will lead to a decrease in nuclear electricity generation while the share of fossil-fuelled power plants, especially through the commissioning of new combined-cycle gas turbine units, is expected to increase."

In Oct. 2009 the government decided to delay the first phase of the phase-out for 10 years.
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Spent fuel storage in Belgium

Since April 2000, Greenpeace opposes shipments of nuclear waste from the reprocessing of spent Belgian fuel by the French company Cogema. In 1998, the government cancelled the contract with Cogema so that no further Belgian fuel will be reprocessed after 1998. The shipment in question was the first of fifteen due to occur over the next few years.

Primary energy supply

Oil and natural gas dominate the primary energy supply of Belgium at percentages close to EU-27 averages. The share of gas has grown significantly since 1990 (by 78%). On the other hand, consumption of solid fuels has been gradually
decreasing. Nuclear is the third most important fuel, with a share above the EU-27 average (22% compared with 14%).
Renewable sources account only for 2% of gross energy consumption (6% is the EU-27 average).

Developments in the nuclear sector

2009, Oct: Belgium delays nuclear phase out

"The Belgian government on Monday decided to delay the start of a progressive phasing out of nuclear power by 10 years until 2025, Energy and Climate Minister Paul Magnette said in a statement.

"The government has decided to delay by 10 years the first stage of phasing out nuclear power," the statement said.

Under a law passed in 2003, Belgium's seven reactors were scheduled to be shut down between 2015 and 2025.

Three of the reactors, two at the Doel plant in northern Belgium and one at Tihange in the south, were due to have been closed in 2015 after 40 years of operations but will now remain open until 2025.

In exchange for the three reactors remaining open, the main electricity producers will contribute between 215 and 245 million euros to state coffers between 2010 and 2014, the ministry explained.

Magnette had called for the delay because of costs and energy security.

"This would guarantee security of supply, limit the production of carbon dioxide and allow us to maintain prices that protect consumer purchasing power and the competitivity of our companies," he said earlier this month."

2007: New energy policy - Need of nuclear power for CO2 reduction

In 2007 the Commission on Energy 2030 energy policy study set up by the government said that a fundamental review of energy policy was required and in particular that nuclear power should be utilised long-term in order to meet CO2 reduction commitments, enhance energy security and maintain economic stability. It also said that the 2003 phase-out decision should be reconsidered as it would double the price of electricity, deny Belgium a cheap way of meeting the country's CO2 emission reduction targets and increase import dependency. Instead, the operating lives of the seven nuclear units should be extended.
However, due to political factors in the governiong coalition, a January 2003 Act prohibited the building of new nuclear power plants and limited the operating lives of existing ones to 40 years (to 2014 - 2025). This can be overridden by a recommendation from the electricity and gas regulator (CREG) if Belgium's security of supply is threatened.

1999: Reactor lifetimes limited to 40 years

In 1999 the government appointed the AMPERE commission to report on electricity demand and options for meeting it in the 21st century. It also announced that reactor lifetimes would be limited to 40 years, and banned further reprocessing.

Sites With Nuclear Facilities

siteplantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
DoelDoel spent fuel storagestorage
Doel-1PWR 40019691974
Doel-3PWR 90019751982
Doel-4PWR 100019781985
MolBR2Research Reactor1961
MolResearch Centre
TihangeTihange spent fuel storagespent fuel pool
Tihange-1PWR 87019701975
Tihange-2PWR 90019761982
Tihange-3PWR 100019781985