Macron faces dire situation as Belgium blindsides France and shuts all nuclear plants
In principle, the Belgian government agreed to shut down all of its nuclear power plants by 2025. However, they have still left open the possibility of extending the life of two reactors if it could not otherwise guarantee a stead energy supply from other sources.
For months, the Belgian parliament, led by a seven-party coalition, debated whether or not to begin shutting down nuclear power stations.
The Greens party demanded that a 2003 law setting out an exit from nuclear energy be respected.
Meanwhile, the French-speaking liberals were in favour of extending the life of the two newest reactors.
The Belgian government has also previously promised more investment into renewable energy capacity building, particularly offshore wind farms.
Belgium has two nuclear plants, with seven ageing reactors in total, which accounts for almost half of the country’s electricity production.
Both the plants, housed in Doel and Tihange, are owned by the French utility company Engie, in a snub to Emmanuel Macron, who has been pushing for nuclear power in the EU.
Shutting down these controversial nuclear reactors, which have previously been shut down repeatedly for safety checks and have sparked fear in neighbouring countries, will be a blow to France’s campaigns in the UK.
France, which is heavily reliant on nuclear energy, has been pushing for it to be included in the EU green taxonomy plan.
Closures will begin in 2022 with the aim of both plants being safely decommissioned and demolished by 2045, Reuters news agency reports.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said that while “very unlikely”, it was possible that certain nuclear reactors could be left to operate longer.
This agreement to shut down nuclear energy may cause further complications for Belgium, as it now begins to figure out how to make up for the energy shortfall.
The country will not turn its back on nuclear technology completely as part of the compromise deal, 100 million euros (£84m) will be invested into research and development including on smaller, modular nuclear energy plants.
The first reactor is set to be shut down on October 1, 2022.
Meanwhile decommissioning it entirely, which includes the removal of all radioactive materials and demolition of buildings, is to be completed by 2045.