Belgium will shut down its seven nuclear reactors by 2025 as planned, but will not close the door on next-generation nuclear power, as part of an agreement reached this morning between the ruling coalition partners.
A government source confirmed to Agence France-Presse the agreement, which was reached after a night of negotiations. It envisages “an investment of about 100 million euros in the research for small modular reactors (SMR)”, this source clarified.
The government was to give a press conference at 11:00 (local time, 12:00 Greek time).
The phasing out of nuclear power has been a part of Belgian law since 2003. The deadline is 2025 and the current government had pledged to honor it when it took office in October 2020.
But the issue divides the ruling coalition, which includes mainly liberals (the political family of Prime Minister Alexander De Cro), socialists and environmentalists.
For a month now, French-speaking liberals in the MR, one of the seven parties in the coalition, have been warning against a full-blown exit scenario backed by Flemish environmentalist Tine van der Stretten.
MR French-speaking liberals have called for part of the current nuclear capability to be maintained, arguing that the new gas-fired power plants are polluting excessively as they produce CO2. About 40% of electricity in Belgium is generated by nuclear energy.
Finally, a limited agreement reached within the cabinet (with one representative from each of the seven parties) stipulates that Belgium will invest in “research on sustainable and CO2-neutral energy”, including future nuclear energy ( s.s .: SMR), broadcast the French RTBF network.
The budget for the investment in this type of technology had already been foreseen, according to the government source, which was contacted by the French Agency.