Engie makes €2 billion in excess profits from nuclear reactors

Engie makes €2 billion in excess profits from nuclear reactors
Doel nuclear power station. Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Jean-Pierre Swirko

Belgium’s Minister of Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten, has estimated that French energy company Engie has made around €2 billion in excess profits from its Belgian nuclear reactors, notably those which will not be subject to a lifespan extension (Doel 1-3 and Tihange 1-2).

“We asked the CREG (Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation) to calculate these excess profits. They amount to €2 billion for the non-extended nuclear power plants,” the minister told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

Van der Straeten noted that around €700 million could be recovered by the state from these “extraordinary profits linked to the crisis.” An estimation which closely matches figures proposed by Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Vincent Van Peteghem.

Peteghem states that taxing excess profits made by energy companies in Belgium should yield “at least an equivalent amount” to the total funds recovered from the superprofits of the nuclear sector.

The government already has a mechanism to skim profits from the nuclear sector, known as the nuclear interest, which sees excess profits made one year paid to the government in the next.

Not just nuclear

“Today, nuclear interest brings in €750 million. If we look at other sectors, we need at least an equivalent amount,” Van Peteghem told Flemish broadcaster VRT.

The government is seriously considering the possibility of “skimming” excess profits from other energy sectors. The latest Consultative Committee (Codeco) has agreed on the need to tax these profits, but the government must still decide how it will implement the radical taxation proposals.

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A working group, composed of experts from CREG, FPS Economy, and FPS Finances has been tasked with examining where these profits are located, whether they can be effectively collected in Belgium, and what tax instruments can be used to this end.

The Minister of Energy has already assured the public that there were legal means for the government to recover a part of these excess profits. Extending the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors will not only bring greater energy security but will ensure that Belgium is able to collect taxes from the operating company Engie for longer.

To this end, parties within the Vivaldi government have called for more of the country's reactors to be extended – a contentious point that Van der Straeten rejected.

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