Belgium's 'lights will go out' if nuclear reactors are not extended, says Elia CEO

Belgium's 'lights will go out' if nuclear reactors are not extended, says Elia CEO
Credit: The Brussels Times / Ugo Realfonzo

Chris Peeters, the CEO of electric grid operator Elia, warned that Belgium’s energy supply will be significantly weakened if an agreement is not reached on extending nuclear reactors.

Peeters told L’Echo and De Tijd on Saturday that “we are now facing a challenge for the winters of 2025 and 2026” given the lack of nuclear power plants currently producing energy.

He called on the Belgian Government and the energy supplier Engie to finally agree on a deal to extend the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear reactors, with a year of negotiations having failed to bare fruit yet. "If you do not do anything," Peeters told both parties, "the lights will go out”.

Both the energy supplier and the government seem hell-bent on reaching an agreement by 30 June. However, they have still not managed to decide on the expenses linked to nuclear waste and decommissioning.

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This is despite over a year of talks since the government chose to extend both power plants’ lifespans by another decade in March of last year. At that time, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo argued that doing so would protect the country's energy supply after choosing to wane off the use of Russian gas.

Peeters agreed with the PM and stated that any other solution to Belgium’s weakening supply would be both costly and lengthy. He revealed for example that it was already too late to build additional gas-fired power stations by the end of 2025.

However, Elia’s CEO did mention two former Engie gas power stations in Vilvoorde and Rodenhuize, which should normally leave the market by 2025 but could be reactivated in time.

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