Doel nuclear power plant in BelgiumBelgium's electricity transmission system operator, Elia, said that the major trends in 2019 were a steady increase in (mainly offshore) renewable power generation, better availability of nuclear-generating facilities and an increase in electricity exports.

In 2019, 48.8% of the power generated in Belgium came from nuclear plants. This was in line with the total for 2017 (50%) and significantly more than in 2018 (31.2%) when several reactors were unavailable.

Belgium exported more electricity in 2019 than it imported with net exports of 1.8TWh (2.1% of the energy mix), in contrast to 2018 when Belgium imported 17.5TWh (20%).

Elia said this “should be viewed in its wider context, against the backdrop of an increasingly Europeanised market, and can be explained primarily by the good availability of Belgium's generating facilities (especially its nuclear power stations).”

The development of interconnections was also a key factor in the circulation of these electricity flows, Elia noted.

“Belgium had not been a net exporter of electricity for almost 10 years, the last time being in 2009 and 2010, when total net exports represented 2.8% and 0.2% respectively of Belgium’s energy mix,” it said.

Belgian has seven nuclear reactors – three at Tihange near Liege and four at Doel near Antwerp.

In 2003, Belgium decided to phase out nuclear power and passed a law to that effect, which was reaffirmed in 2015 and 2018.

A commission appointed to assess the impact of the nuclear phaseout is scheduled to be completed in 2025 but has yet to report any findings.

Elia estimates that some 3.9GW of new power generating capacity will be needed to compensate for Belgium's nuclear phaseout.

Photo: Belgium's Doel nuclear power plant