Prime Minister Alexander de Croo and Energy Minister Tine van der Straiten announced this morning that they have reached a preliminary agreement with Enge regarding the extension of Doel 4 and Tihange 3. The parties’ goal is to reach a final agreement by the end of the year and present it to the European Commission. What does this agreement contain in principle?
1. The government and Engy aspire to get the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 extensions for November 2026. Initially, Thierry Seigmann, President of Electrabel, estimated that the two reactors could not be ready before 2027, due to government delays. resolution. Return in November 2026 will allow Tinne Van der Straeten not to have to support the construction of an additional gas-fired power plant to spend the winter of 2026-2027. In the meantime, the winter of 2025-2026 should take place without any nuclear reactor in Belgium. But this should not cause problems, according to the calculations of the director of the high voltage network, Elia.
2. The government accepted Engy’s request to involve the Belgian state in the nuclear sector. In fact, a joint state-government company should be created to manage Doel 4 and Tihange 3 during the extension period. Therefore, the state must finance part of the indicative investments. In return, you will reap profits from operating these two nuclear reactors. “The Belgian state will not be an operator, and that is not part of its mission.”Alexander de Croo said. We introduce capital, which allows us to anchor ourselves in strategic decisions. The private sector has better control over exploitation, but we will have our say in strategic decisions.”.
3. Angie got what she had been asking for for so long: a maximum amount of nuclear material. By the end of the year, the maximum costs for managing nuclear waste will have to be determined. Thus, ENGIE will ensure that no more than this ceiling is spent to finance the treatment of nuclear waste. This is a strong concession on the part of ecologists, who have always defended the polluter pays principle. In fact, if the cap proves to be insufficient, it is the Belgian state that has to pay the extra cost. Furthermore, there appears to be a timing inconsistency in this agreement. Indeed, the maximum nuclear provisions for the end of the year should be determined. However, the great debate about the future of our nuclear waste should come to an end in 2024. How can the maximum price be set without knowing what will happen to our nuclear waste? Van der Straeten specifies that studies have already been conducted on the geological burial of nuclear waste. These studies will serve as the basis for calculating the maximum amount that Engy will pay. In addition, the national debate could lead to a solution other than geological burial, as the Van der Straeten Treasury identifies. In this case, the ceiling amount will not correspond to the final approved nuclear waste management solution. In addition, Engy will pay a premium for setting this ceiling.
The company says it is confident of reaching a global agreement by the end of the year. However, we are only at the beginning of the negotiations and there are still many details to iron out, Engi realizes. For example, it seems reasonable for the state to share the cost of managing the nuclear waste generated by the spillover. But who will bear the cost of dismantling the two extended reactors? The government and Engy do not seem to be on the same page at this level.
On a larger scale, Angie summons it “A non-binding letter of intent to assess the feasibility and terms of extension of the two most recent nuclear units (Doel 4 and Tihange 3”). The words used show great caution on the part of the nuclear operator.