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Belgium heading for a nuclear-free future

Looking towards Belgium’s nuclear-free future, Power Technology By Ross Davies,6 Feb 19,

The recent closure of six out of seven nuclear reactors raised concerns over the ability of Belgium to cope without its nuclear power in the coming months. How will the country react and what lessons can the power industry learn when looking forward to the 2025 nuclear phase-out plan? ……….

Reasons for the closures

The closure of six of the nuclear reactors was for various unplanned reasons, but linked to nuclear safety, according to Engie Electrabel.

Engie Electrabel spokesperson Hellen Smeets says: “Some of our reactors [Doel 3 and 4, Tihange 1 and 2] have been under inspection programmes regarding the concrete on the ceilings of the bunkers. Those bunkers are right next to the reactor and we have noticed a bit of deterioration of the concrete because in those specific bunkers there were pipes where there was a lot of steam.”

The high levels of steam made the bunkers very hot and moist, and so a small amount of degradation occurred to the concrete ceiling.

Meanwhile, other reactors were in the stages of planned overhaul, in order to extend their life by ten years…………

Nuclear phase-out: the road to 2025

The approach taken by the Belgium power industry to handle any potential power shortages this winter could pose some interesting challenges and solutions when looking forward to the country’s nuclear phase-out plan.

The draft bill for Belgium to become a nuclear-free country, known as the Energy Pact, was announced in December 2017. In October 2018, the government confirmed its commitment to the pledge as long as alternative sources are found to meet demand in the next seven or so years. It’s no small feat, as the seven nuclear reactors contribute around 6GW of energy capacity, which would need to be replaced.

The solution could be simpler than replacing the huge amount of capacity supplied by the nuclear plants. If the whole population, both businesses and residents, can reduce its energy consumption, then there will be less of a strain on energy companies to meet demand.

Smeets says: “The big question is how will Belgium cope if that [2025] decision stands? I think we should really think about how to be as efficient as possible. Energy efficiency is really important.

“If we all consume less electricity there wouldn’t be the need to produce more and more. There wouldn’t be the need to replace all capacities, so I think we should really look into that and try to work on that because there is a lot of opportunity for everyone.”

Interestingly, large swathes of power consumption in Belgium are used for powering its old, energy inefficient buildings, according to Engie Electrabel.“We can help people, firms, and authorities to help make their buildings more energy efficient and consume less energy. I think there is a lot of opportunity there,” says Smeets.

“There are a lot of old buildings in Belgium and I think around 40% of energy consumption in Belgium goes into powering buildings – not industry, but buildings. If we could reduce the electricity consumption in buildings that would get us somewhere.”

Looking forward, Engie also plans to invest more in its renewables business, such as wind power.

“We have a lot of wind turbines and we are definitely looking further into expanding that and biogas, hydraulic power stations, etc. We think that is the future. So we are really trying to work on and expand that side of our services,” adds Smeets……..https://www.power-technology.com/features/belgiums-nuclear-free-future/

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February 7, 2019 - Posted by | EUROPE, politics

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