Belgium set for winter blackouts amidst aging nuclear plants

Belgium set for winter blackouts amidst aging nuclear plants

Belgium is preparing for power shortages this winter as its ageing nuclear fleet struggles to meet demand.

The first course of action, according to energy minister Marie-Christine Marghem, is to ask neighbouring countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, to transport electricity via cross-border cables.

Another option is to contract a gas fired power plant to help meet demand.

Belgium’s power shortages began on 21st September when Engie SA said it would extend outages at its Tihange-2 and 3 reactors until next year, leaving a 2,000 mega-watt deficit this winter.

The country’s energy security has been put to the test before, when in 2013 and 2014 safety concerns forced reactors to close for 20 months, spanning two winters.

Energy prices have soared as a result, with electricity delivery during a one-hour time period reaching €411 in comparison to the average of €60.19 in rest of the year.

Earlier this year, Britain was forced to turn to coal to step in to meet energy demand after the National Grid issued a “gas deficit warning”, highlighting the vulnerability of the European energy market.

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