Belgium's Green energy minister says the country needs to rethink its plans surrounding its nuclear exit.
In December 2021, it was agreed that as long as it didn't result in shortages to the country's energy supplies, Belgium's nuclear power plants would all be closed by 2025 – a plan first brought into law in 2003.
While the decision was made between Belgium's seven-party coalition government, and came after months of debate, the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia – Europe's top gas supplier – has seen minister Tinne Van der Straeten say the country needs to reassess the situation.
Previously, the Greens stressed the importance of the 2003 law, however, in a bid to take 'energy back into [Belgium's] hands', Van der Straeten took to Twitter to call for three 'major energy breakthrough[s]', Reuters reports.
She said: '1) Reducing energy bill: VAT reduction for gas and electricity to 6%. 2) Renewable Energy Acceleration. 3) Open view on nuclear exit.
'Those 3 elements are one and indivisible. This is how we take energy back into our own hands.'
Er is nood aan een grote energiedoorbraak.— Tinne Van der Straeten (@TinneVdS) March 7, 2022
1) Verlagen energiefactuur: BTW-verlaging gas en elektriciteit naar 6%
2) Versnelling hernieuwbare energie
3) Open blik op kernuitstap
Die 3 elementen zijn één en ondeelbaar. Zo nemen we energie terug in eigen handen
'Our economy and wallet are being drained because we depend on energy (oil, gas, uranium) from abroad. Faster greening reduces our energy bill structurally, in addition to permanent VAT reduction on electricity and gas,' she wrote in a later post.
Continuing the same thread, the minister said 'Plan A is ready and executable,' but 'reassessment [is] needed due to war in Ukraine'.
'We also need to look objectively at the problems and obstacles to an extension. Extension is about 3% of our energy. There is a need for a major energy breakthrough for 100% of our energy,' she said.
Plan A is klaar en uitvoerbaar. Reassessment nodig door oorlog in Oekraïne. Ook moeten we de problemen en obstakels voor een verlenging objectief bekijken.— Tinne Van der Straeten (@TinneVdS) March 7, 2022
Verlenging gaat over 3% van onze energie. Er is nood aan een grote energiedoorbraak voor 100% van onze energie
Despite the minister's announcement on social media, Belgium has not revealed how it is set to make the changes.
The country currently has seven reactors in total.
Nearly half of the country's electricity is produced by two of its newest nuclear plants, which are operated by Engie, a French utility company.
Engie is said to be in consultation with the Belgium government over whether the country's energy supply could be threatened by the phasing out of its nuclear plants.
Belgium may be forced to build more gas-fuelled power plants in an attempt to restore the capacity of the nuclear plant.
Er woedt een echte oorlog in Oekraïne, we hebben geen nood aan eigen kleine oorlogjes van het grote gelijk. Samenwerking nodig, geen strijd. Om energiefactuur te verlagen en hernieuwbare energie te versnellen. Zo nemen we onze energie opnieuw in eigen handen.— Tinne Van der Straeten (@TinneVdS) March 7, 2022
In order to similarly cut its reliance on Russia for its gas supply, Germany has also called for reversals to its previous plans to slowly get rid of nuclear and coal plants.
On October 1, 2022, one of Belgium's seven reactors is set to be closed, marking the beginning of the country's nuclear exit.
By 2045, all radioactive materials and buildings are set to be removed from Belgium.
However, the government has said it will make a decision by mid-March on possible changes to the plans.
Saying Belgium does not need its 'own little wars of the great right', Van der Staeten stressed that with the 'real war going on in Ukraine', the western European country 'need[s] cooperation, not struggle'.
She stated: 'To reduce energy bills and accelerate renewable energy. This is how we take our energy into our own hands again.'
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