Agreement in principle between Belgium and Engie to extend two reactors

In the face of the current energy crisis in Europe, the Belgian government and Engie announced that they had agreed on Friday, 22 July. The agreement provides for the extension of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors by ten years. The latter will be operated by a joint venture to be created by the two entities. A final agreement is expected by the end of the year.

On Friday, 22 July, the Belgian State and the energy company Engie agreed to extend the life of two reactors and create a joint venture to operate them. The agreement comes four months after the federal government’s decision to postpone its final nuclear phase-out, initially planned for 2025, by ten years and a few days after Engie’s request to extend the life of the Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactors until the end of March 2023, which was deemed “not feasible.”

“The Belgian government is taking its responsibilities, so our country can control its energy supply,” said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo. However, the negotiations are not over yet. A final agreement must be reached by the end of the year and submitted to the European Commission, explains Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten.

A promising start and a 50/50 agreement

The framework of this joint agreement in principle includes the extension of the operation of Doel 4 and Tihange 3. These reactors represent a total nuclear capacity of 2GW. They are scheduled to restart in November 2026, subject to approval by the safety authorities. According to the government, they will be managed as “a stable and sustainable structure in which the Belgian State and Engie share the risks as well as the benefits through a new company to be created.” As for the costs of dismantling the plants and managing fissile materials and radioactive waste, they will be borne by the operator, the Prime Minister announced.

The French group explains that the new entity will be “dedicated to the two units with a 50/50 participation of the Belgian State and Electrabel” that this new entity will be dedicated the two units with equal participation of the Belgian State and Electrabel (Engie’s Belgian subsidiary, editor’s note).

This declaration comes at a time when the war in Ukraine threatens Belgium’s energy security and when the European Union is proposing to the Member States to “switch to nuclear power where it is an option” and is asking countries that wish to give up the civil atom to postpone their plans to close nuclear power stations. Germany has also taken this proposal seriously and is now questioning the closure of its nuclear power plants. ■


Published on 22nd July 2022

By Maximilien Struys (Sfen)

Photo : Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo – Copyright: JULIETTE BRUYNSEELS / BELGA MAG / BELGA VIA AFP