On Tuesday afternoon, the House Energy Committee approved the bill that postpones the progressive exit from nuclear energy from 2015 to 2025. Majority party MR did not participate in the vote. The plenary has yet to pronounce itself.

    In concrete terms, the text confirms the decision of the Michel government in 2014 to extend the operation of the Doel 1 and Doel 2 reactors. Because some requirements were not met, such as conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the Constitutional Court overturned it. In the meantime, all requirements have been met. On 10 June, the Council of Ministers gave the green light for the draft repair law that will allow Doel 1 & 2 to work 10 years longer.

    In reality, both reactors were never shut down, because the Constitutional Court gave until December 31, 2022 to replace the overturned law.

    Vote on extension of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 . at the end of 2023

    According to the current closure calendar of the seven Belgian nuclear reactors, Doel 3 will close on October 1, 2022, Tihange 2 on February 1, 2023, Doel 1 on February 15, 2025, Doel 4 on July 1, 2025, Tihange 3 on September 1, 2025, Tihange 1 on October 1. 2025 and Doel 2 on December 1, 2025.

    But the government and operator Engie have signed a letter of intent to postpone the shutdown of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 by ten years until 2036, with a restart in 2026. This would be voted on at the end of 2023, the Minister of Energy Tinne Van der Straeten announced. (Green) Tuesday in committee. Within the majority, CD&V and MR are in favor of an extension of 20 years.

    Energy Minister Tinne Van Der Straeten (Green) © BELGA

    In addition, there is another question about postponing the definitive shutdown of Tihange 2 by one month until March 31, 2023. Last week, Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) opened a similar debate for Doel 2, but Engie did not assure a question in that regard on Tuesday. order from the government.

    Minister Van der Straeten emphasized on Tuesday that this is not about a reconfirmation of the calendar for the nuclear exit. “On April 1, 2022, the government submitted a preliminary draft law for the amendment of the nuclear phase-out law for the extension of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors. After that, the necessary measures were immediately taken for an EIA. We don’t want to make the same mistakes as the previous government. For legal reasons, today’s decision only applies to Doel 1 & 2. The EIA is limited to these two reactors and no decision can be made about the other reactors, not even indirectly. If the nuclear phase-out calendar were to be changed, there is a real risk of a new procedure before the Constitutional Court, leading to more delays and the shutdown of reactors.”

    Amendment rejected

    Catherine Fonck of opposition party Les Engagés submitted an amendment to extend the operation of Doel 3, Tihange 2, Doel 4 and Tihange 3 by 20 years and Tihange 1, Doel 2 and Doel 1 by 10 years. This would mean that the nuclear phase-out would not take place until 2045. But the amendment was rejected.

    In the majority, former MR energy minister Marie Christine Marghem had announced in ‘La Libre’ that she would submit a proposal to simply abolish the 2003 nuclear phase-out law. In committee, she said she reserves the right to table an amendment on the calendar, “but we still have time until December 31”. Marghem, who had sought legal advice, ultimately did not participate in the vote.

    The other majority parties approved the bill, N-VA and Vlaams Belang abstained and PVDA voted against because the text would make it even more difficult to skim off the sector’s excess profits. Doel 1 & 2 are not subject to the nuclear interest, but a fixed fee of 20 million per contract.

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