Unit 1 at Belgium’s Doel nuclear plant was restarted on 12 March several days ahead of schedule, according to Engie Electrabel, the Belgian subsidiary of French energy group Engie.
The 433MW pressurised water reactor had been offline since April 2018 for repairs on a water leak in its cooling system and was due to be restarted on 15 March. Belgium’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (Fanc) gave Electrabel permission to restart Doel 1 in February. A similar, but less extensive problem also closed Doel 2, but the repair work took less time and it restarted in January. Both Doel units are 433MWe pressurised water reactors. Doel 1 started commercial operation in February 1975 and Doel 2 in December 1975.
Electrabel, operates seven nuclear reactors in Belgium – three at Tihange near Liege and four at Doel near Antwerp - with a combined installed capacity of 5.9GWe.
Six units have been offline in recent months for maintenance and repair. With the restart of Doel 1, only one plant will remain offline - Tihange 2, which was taken offline because of concrete degradation issues. Tihange 2 is now expected to restart on 1 June.
Although Belgium has decided to phase out nuclear power by 2025, the lifespan of Doel 1&2 and Tihange 1 - Belgium’s three oldest reactors - will be extended to that date, ten years beyond the original schedule.