Belgium extends life of its nuclear power industry by 10 years

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The Belgian government announced on Monday it has signed an agreement with French energy company Engie to extend two of the seven nuclear reactors operated in Belgium for ten years, starting in November 2026.

The two parties had been negotiating hard for months over the conditions of the extension, decided in March 2022 by Belgium to guarantee its energy supply beyond 2025, against a backdrop of uncertainties linked to the war in Ukraine.

The Belgian state and the energy company had already agreed to create a 50/50 joint venture to manage the two extended reactors, under a pre-agreement announced in July.

Announcing the deal at a news conference in Brussels, the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said it would allow the country to take back control of its “energy destiny”.

“This energy production which is naturally extremely efficient, is a form of energy which does not produce greenhouse gases and where the Belgian State will become an important partner,” said Mr De Croo.

“In the past, very often, it was said that the decisions in relation to energy policy in Belgium are not taken in Belgium, but are taken in other capitals. With these decisions, the decisions will be made in our country.”

The Belgian government had announced on 18 March its decision to postpone by ten years its total withdrawal from nuclear power, which was initially planned for 2025. The seven reactors were to cease production in stages between the end of 2022 and 2025, and one of them was already shut down at the end of September.

But the Engie group demanded a number of conditions for feasibility, including a cap on the costs of processing radioactive waste and spent fuel.