At the turn of the year, the federal government spent weeks negotiating with Engie, the operator of Belgian nuclear power plants, about an extension to its last two nuclear power plants: Doel 4 and Tihange 3. It was eventually agreed that the power plants would be ready by November 2026. To save electricity for years to come.
But this did not solve the problems. In the winter of 2025 and 2026, there was still a risk of power shortages, because the power plants would be shut down during maintenance work. Since just a few weeks ago, the government moved forward to keep the power stations at Doel 1, 2 and Tihange 1 open longer. It usually closes in the year 2025.
But FANC, which monitors safety at nuclear power plants, proposes an alternative route in a letter to the government. The IAEA proposes to use the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 power plants during uncertain winters. The planned maintenance work can be carried out in 2026, so that the stations can continue to operate during the winter season.
At the end of February it was already known that FANC proposed this option. But in the letter to the government that the morning He was able to look into it, and it seems that there was also casual contact with the owner Angie in the meantime. The company “sees this as an opportunity to implement this scenario, provided that new nuclear fuel is available.”
According to FANC, the previous government’s plan was particularly difficult. Anyway, Engie Electrabel doesn’t like stretching out its old three power plants. According to them, it is highly uncertain whether these reactors can meet the latest safety regulations. The council agrees with them: concerns about safety are justified. It appears that the “alternative scenario is preferred in terms of nuclear safety”.
The government will take the lead in an additional meeting of the primary cabinet on Monday. They may have followed a FANC analysis. Although this is not confirmed. A government source notes that the new plan makes extending the life of even the smallest power plants more complicated. You must ensure that no new problem appears after the two winter problems.
On the political level, the FANC scenario would certainly be a boost for the Greens. Extending the three old plants was a symbolic sacrifice for them, because it made the nuclear exit seem completely dead and buried.
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