Belgians are in favour of nuclear energy, survey shows

Belgians are in favour of nuclear energy, survey shows
Credit: Belga/ Dirk Waem

Belgians want the Federal Government to increase investments in nuclear power, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos for Le Soir, Het Laatste Nieuws, RTL Info and VTM. As much as two-thirds of those surveyed believe that all of the country’s nuclear power plants should be extended.

Pro-nuclear views have rapidly spread across the whole of Belgium, with 60% of Flemish respondents, 55% in Brussels and 52% in Wallonia calling for future reactor extensions. Moreover, seven in ten respondents also agree with the Belgian Government having prolonged the lifespans of Doel 4 and Tihange 3.

These ten-year extensions were announced in March of last year after Belgium decided to wane its dependence on Russian gas. Originally set to be shut off in 2025, Doel 4 and Tihange 3 will now run until 2035. According to the Federal Government, this would improve Belgium’s energy supply, an argument that seems to have convinced respondents.

However, reaching an agreement with the energy supplier Engie proved lengthy, especially due to ideological differences on the benefits of nuclear energy within the governing coalition. The green parties’ (Ecolo and Groen) long-standing opposition to nuclear power over radioactive waste saw them engaged in a constant war of words over the proposed extension with the government’s liberal parties Open VLD and MR.

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This dichotomy has been reflected in the survey, with only 31% of green voters agreeing that Belgium should continue extending its nuclear reactors, in contrast to the widespread support among right-wing respondents.

Nonetheless, the greens in government may now have to bear any future extensions, given the high level of public support for nuclear energy. Deputy Minister David Clarinval (MR) announced that the latest federal budget would finance a feasibility study into extending the Doel 1, Doel 2 and Tihange 1 power plants.

As previously reported, the Federal Government had already internally looked into prolonging these three reactors past 2025, with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten said to be already discussing the possibility with Engie.

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