Nuclear extension timeframe set to be negotiated

Nuclear extension timeframe set to be negotiated
Credit: Belga / Eric Lalmand

The Belgian Government and energy supplier Engie are getting closer to completing the extension of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear reactors, L'Echo reports. Both parties are set to decide on the expenses of nuclear waste management by Wednesday.

After the Federal Government and supplier reached an interim agreement in January over these extensions, after lengthy negotiations throughout 2022. The timetable between both parties has now been made clearer with all documents set to be completed and signed by 30 June.

One of the final hurdles for the renewal of both nuclear reactors by the end of 2026 is the cost of nuclear waste management, with Engie having previously demanded that the government bear the brunt of these expenses. L'Echo is reporting that the Belgian State is set to decide on a ceiling, which if exceeded they would pay the difference for.

To decide on the set amount, the government consulted three different bodies in the past week: ONDRAF/NIRAS  (the federal agency in charge of nuclear waste management), the Commission for Nuclear Provisions (CNP) and the National Bank of Belgium (BNB).

ONDRAF/NIRAS presented its cost estimates to the government on Monday, with the CNP and the BNB then recommending a set rate for these costs. The 30-year-long interest rates are set to heavily impact this week's negotiations, with the CNP said to be more cautious than the BNB in its suggestions.

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In any case, both the government and Engie wish to reach an agreement on these expenses by Wednesday, 15 March, given that the date was already set out in January's deal.

However, some factors may potentially delay this cut-off date, with Nele Scheerlinck of Engie's Belgian branch Electrabel telling L'Echo that "it is always very difficult to anticipate the date of an agreement." 

Moreover, any deal will then have to be negotiated between the Federal Government's seven different parties, who have already had significant clashes over nuclear power.

For example, the French-speaking liberal party MR wants the government's ministers to meet ahead of this week's negotiations with Engie, which a government source has confirmed to L'Echo will happen.

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