85% of Belgians want to keep nuclear power. “De Croo government, listen to this signal.”

9 November 2023
Bert Wollants

The latest poll commissioned by the Nuclear Forum once again makes it clear how citizens see this country’s energy future. For example, 85% want to retain nuclear power in the electricity mix of the future, 87% of the population wants to see more investments in Small Modular Reactors and 80% want to extend the life of nuclear power stations for more than ten years. “While there is massive public support, the federal government is only following along reluctantly,” responds MP Bert Wollants.

However, promoting nuclear power is more important than ever: network administrator Elia has already predicted an increase in electricity consumption of more than 60% or 50 billion kWh in the coming decade. This is while the De Croo government wants to close all nuclear power stations by 2035. In 2022, roughly 42 TWh was generated by nuclear power stations, so we will have to generate more than 90 TWh by other means, which is more than our total consumption now. “Increasing investment in our nuclear power stations and in the construction of new reactors is of the utmost importance to ensure our future energy supply. But the De Croo government lacks political courage.”

Large majority

Anyone who ploughs through the figures sees that a large majority is in favour of building more nuclear units and extending the life of more nuclear power stations and to do so for a longer duration. “This is in stark contrast to the limited efforts of the De Croo government, which is sticking to extending the existing nuclear power stations by only ten years,” Wollants explains.  Doel 3 and Tihange 2 stations have already closed their doors.

Conditions too strict for small modular reactors

The arrival of small modular reactors is and remains a sore point within the De Croo government, despite last week’s communication about the possible construction of a commercial modular reactor. “While countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom are today opting resolutely for new reactors, our Minister of Energy imposes a series of strict conditions that chiefly postpone construction until 2040-2045.”

Build a new reactor? Still prohibited by law

On top of that, building new reactors is still legally prohibited. That is why the N-VA has been trying for years to delete that article from the nuclear phase-out law. “Our proposal has been on the table since the end of 2021, and there are also five other proposals from the majority parties (Open Vld, CD&V, MR) and the opposition. But ten committee meetings and two sets of hearings later, the reluctance among the majority parties remains firmly intact. Every trick in the book was brought out to paralyse the parliamentary process. Why? For fear of offending coalition partner Ecolo-Groen and blowing up the De Croo government.”

Alternative majority

Wollants hopes that these figures will finally open the eyes of the De Croo government coalition: “Our citizens are sending a very clear signal here: make the maximum use of nuclear power. It is therefore unacceptable that the De Croo government continues to mortgage our future for fear of losing positions. We are not letting go of this fight and we are still offering an alternative majority for the majority parties that do see the light.”

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