Belgium on Friday has announced to extend by a decade a plan to scrap nuclear energy in 2025, alarmed by the huge rise in energy prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
As per the statement released by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, “The federal government has made a decision to take the required steps to extend the life of the two nuclear reactors by ten years.”
He said, “This extension will empower our nation’s independence from fossil fuels in a turbulent geopolitical environment.”
The push to 2035 comes as calls increase that neighbouring Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, should also reconsider its nuclear energy exit, but ministers in Berlin last week doubled down on their country’s no atom pledge despite the price shock.
Europe is speeding up to find ways to wean itself off its energy dependency on Russia, which provides 40% of Europe’s gas needs, mainly to Germany, Italy and several central European nations.
Prices have already spiked for Europeans since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and EU leaders are likely to hold a meeting by next week to agree on new emergency measures to soften the blow for consumers and businesses.
Currently, Belgium operates two nuclear power plants with seven(7) reactors.
The committment of a gradual phase-out of nuclear power has been enshrined in Belgian law since 2003, and the Greens party fiercely resisted the decision to delay the moratorium again.
In Friday’s plan, which was discussed during a marathon cabinet session, the government has agreed to extend the operating lives of the Doel 4 reactor near the port city of Antwerp & Tihange 3 near Liege until 2035.
De Croo demanded that the decision would provide the nation certainly after years of quarrelling over the wisdom of the nuclear exit.