Belgium has decided to postpone its nuclear phase-out scheduled for 2025 by ten years, in face of rising energy prices partly due to the Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine
"The federal government has decided to take the necessary measures to extend the life of the two nuclear reactors by ten years," Prime Minister Alexandre De Croo said in a statement. "This extension should make it possible to strengthen the independence of our country regarding fossil fuels in a chaotic geopolitical context", he added.
The Belgian government will extend the life of Doel 4 (1090MW) and Tihange 3 (1020MW) for 10 years to keep them in operation until 2035.
De Croo also announced an increase in renewable energies through "additional investments" in offshore wind power, hydrogen, solar energy and sustainable mobility.
The Belgian government still needs to negotiate with France’s Engie, the operator of the Doel and Tihange plants which together have seven reactors. However, Engie has expressed strong reservations about the policy change.
"The decision to extend the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 power plants raises significant safety, regulation and implementation constraints, especially since this extension would take place even though the dismantling activities on neighbouring units will have started," Engie said in a press release. "It therefore presents a risk profile which, by its unpredictability and its scale, exceeds the normal activity of a private operator."
The law on the gradual phase-out of nuclear energy in Belgium was passed in 2003.
De Croo said a draft bill relating to the extension of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 will be submitted by the end of March for the approval of the Council of Ministers, as will a draft royal decree amending the royal decree of 30 November 2011 on the safety requirements for nuclear installations.
Belgium’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) in January provisionally approved life extension for Tihange 3 and Doel 4 if this proved necessary to ensure energy security.
“War changes our outlook on energy,” Prime Minister De Croo said during his press conference. “In this way, energy can be guaranteed in the medium and long term,” he stressed. "What we are doing is securing the present and investing in the future."
Belgium's government said in December that would continue to invest in future technologies, in particular small modular reactors (SMRs).