Belgium could extend the lifetime of Tihange 3 and Doel 4 nuclear reactors

20 Jan 2022

The Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (AFCN) has authorised the extension of the operating life of the Tihange 3 and Doel 4 nuclear reactors that are due to stop in 2025 if installations are updated. The Belgium government is expected to make a final decision on the issue in the first quarter of 2022. In March 2022, the power transmission system operator (TSO) Elia will release a report determining if the security of energy supply after 2025 is threatened without nuclear energy. If required, Belgium could be forced to maintain Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear reactors active longer. The seven PWR nuclear reactors in the country - Doel 1-2-3-4 and Tihange 1-2-3 reactors - are operated by Engie, through its affiliate Engie Electrabel. The company decided to initiate the gradual decommissioning of its two Belgian nuclear power plants in Doel (2.9 GW), near Antwerp, and Tihange (3 GW), near Liège, in December 2021. 

In December 2021, the Belgian government agreed, as previously pledged, to close all nuclear power plants by 2025. It will, however, reserve the right to extend operations on two reactors depending on the level of security of supply. In 2003, the country passed a law to phase-out nuclear power between 2022 and 2025 but the deadline was not fully adopted by the government. According to Elia, nuclear accounted for 52% of Belgium's electricity generation in 2021 (compared to 40% in 2020) thanks to the high availability of the nuclear fleet, followed by natural gas (25%, compared to 35% in 2020), wind (12%, including 7% offshore) and solar (5%).

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