The Quest to Phase-Out Belgium’s Nuclear Power Systems: A Reality or a Myth?


Nuclear energy, one of Europe’s reliable and sustainable energy mix source for generation of electricity is at a crossroad. While some member EU countries are expanding its use in their energy policies, others like Belgium through a legislative Act are planning to phase it out. Based on this Act adopted in 2003, it is expected that all seven nuclear reactors in the Belgium towns of Doel and Tihange will be shut down by 2025. According to the IEA 2009 Energy review, nuclear energy supplies more than half of Belgium’s electricity and also contributes to effort to reduce air pollution and avoid CO2 emissions. Thus a nuclear phase out will obviously pose a challenge as impact assessment studies conducted by the Commission for the Analysis of the Belgian Energy Policy towards 2030(CE2030) and the Group of Experts on Energy Mix (GEMIX) have concluded higher electricity prices, risk of energy security and inability to meet climate change mitigation targets as possible consequences. The purpose of the paper is to examine if the yet to be implemented nuclear phase out plan will be a reality or a myth. The paper analyses the reports of CE2030 and GEMIX in the context of cost implications, security of energy supply and climate change mitigations together with other relevant sources of information. The conclusion reached is that the nuclear phase out will be a reality if Belgium incorporates into its energy policy, measures to provide adequate, efficient and sustainable alternative energy sources which will replace the 5860 Megawatts power generation capacity of nuclear, in addition to meeting its CO2 emission reduction targets. Otherwise this phase out plan will only be a myth.