Belgium: government approves nuclear phase-out by 2025
Picture Shutterstock

More renewable energies, less nuclear power: Brussels is preparing to abandon nuclear energy. The energy pact approved by the Belgian government provides for the elimination of nuclear energy. The investment will focus on renewable energies.

Belgium signs the abandonment of nuclear energy. In an agreement approved on Friday, March 30, the government paved the way for phasing out atomic energy: the country will shut down its seven reactors by 2025. The phasing out of nuclear energy is, in fact, one chapters of the new national energy pact approved by government parties.

In fact, the Belgian plan includes a measure that the country has been debating for 14 years and has not been able to implement. Also because the nation now gets about 50% of its fission electricity, ranked fourth in the European ranking of states with the highest proportion of nuclear energy, after France, Slovakia and Ukraine. The abandonment of nuclear energy will therefore not be easy, given Belgium’s delay in achieving its renewable energy targets (only 8.7% of its energy needs come from renewables) and the Dutch gas. that close.

But the government appears firmly committed to taking action in this area, especially after the controversy that has arisen in previous years over safety concerns and the advanced age of the reactors. The wave of fear created after the Fukushima accident led Europe to question its own facilities. In 2012, after a series of inspections, the Belgian Nuclear Safety Authority (AFCN, Federal Nuclear Control Agency) identified technical problems (cracks in the pressure reactor system) at both the Doel nuclear power plant , near the Netherlands, such as at the Thiange nuclear power plant, on the border with Luxembourg and Germany. The 40-year-old factories were quickly closed, inspected and reactivated in 2015, but their activity was extended until 2025.

Picture Shutterstock

This expansion has provoked protests from environmentalists, in particular on the retirement age of power stations. “According to the law on phasing out nuclear energy (2003 law), the Tihange 1, Doel 1 and Doel 2 reactors had to be closed permanently in 2015┬╗Explains Greenpeace Belgium, stressing that the Di Rupo and Michel governments have both extended the life of the reactors fearing that the security of supply will be compromised. These obsolete reactors have been warned to have to be shut down more frequently and especially for longer periods, putting the power supply at risk.

And that certainly does not reassure the new nuclear safety plan approved in recent days by Minister of the Interior Jan Jambon: Belgian pharmacies will distribute iodine tablets free of charge to those who request them (already provided to those living in risk areas) in order to limit the risk of developing thyroid cancer in the event of a nuclear accident.

In addition to the abandonment of nuclear energy, the new Belgian energy pact also defines an increase in investments in renewable energies, in particular in offshore wind energy.