Friday, November 04, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer. In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, some countries have decided to rethink their energy policies and initiate moves towards safer energy alternatives. Following in the footsteps of Germany, the European nation of Belgium has reportedly decided to phase out its nuclear energy sector, beginning with the shutdown of three of its oldest reactors by 2015.Back in March, Germany, the fourth-largest economy in the world, vowed to end its nuclear program by as early as 2020, and later revised that date to 2022 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-eur…). Belgium now intends to do the same thing with its two nuclear power stations that together house seven nuclear reactors, by 2025.
BBC News reports that Belgian officials reached an agreement to shut down two older reactors at the nation’s nuclear facility in Doel, as well as another older reactor at its Tihange plant, by 2015. From there, it will gradually phase out the remaining four reactors by 2025 which, together with the first three, currently generate 5,860 megawatts of power.
“There is a confirmation that the plants will close, and nuclear will become a transition energy in Belgium,” an unnamed government official told The Wall Street Journal recently. “The government will set out a plan for the move to alternative power sources in the six months following its installation.”
Reports say the phase-out dates are somewhat flexible, and that the process of switching from nuclear to safe alternatives will take time. In the meantime, the Belgian government, which is currently being reformed after its collapse in 2010, plans to implement a nuclear tax that will generate revenue for investing in alternative energy technologies.
Electrabel, the company that runs Belgium’s nuclear facilities, claims that the Belgian government has changed course from its previous intentions. The Belgian government had actually recommended extending the lives of the old reactors based on studies it released prior to Fukushima — but now its plans have changed.
GDF-Suez, which is part of Electrabel, has made a conditional agreement with the Belgian government to only follow through with the phase out if energy shortages and price jumps will not come about as a result. It remains to be seen if Belgian officials will come up with effective energy alternatives.
Sources for this article include: