Major power users book into nuclear

26 August 2011

Generators and major users of power in Belgium have come together in a consortium called Blue Sky to contract supplies of nuclear power. 


A joint agreement has been signed by power generators Electrabel and GDF Suez along with six companies involved in a range of energy-intensive activities including the production of chemicals, gases, plastics, steel and speciality metals. The group will have the right to draw 200 MWe from Electrabel's Doel 1, Doel 2 and Tihange 1 nuclear reactors - about 11% of those units' total capacity.


This arrangement will start on 1 January 2012 and continue until the reactors are eventually taken out of service. This is currently set by politicians for 2025, although they could possibly operate for a further decade based on safety and economic considerations alone.

A further agreement has seen the group agree to jointly invest in up to 200 MWe of new nuclear generation capacity, should this occur.


A joint announcement did not elaborate on any possibilities foreseen for new nuclear build, whether their agreement would apply only to new nuclear in Belgium, or whether improvements at the three specified reactors would qualify as new nuclear capacity. For its own part, GDF Suez is interested in taking a majority stake in new reactors in France and is also a partner in the NuGen consortium targeting new build at Sellafield in the UK.


The Blue Sky group will also jointly invest in another 200 MWe tranche of new power generation capacity in the form of a combined-cycle gas-fired plant.


Copper manufacturing (Aurubis)
Working with copper. Energy supply is a major issue for certain heavy
and high-tech industries (Image: Aurubis)


Speaking for Electrabel, general manager Sophie Dutordoir said that its partners "want to have a long-term vision of their electricity supply" and that her company wants to support its clients with its expertise in the "development, construction and exploitation of power plants."


Major energy users usually see nuclear energy as an economic and reliable way to power their facilities and sometimes they have combined to build their own nuclear power plants. This is known as the 'Finnish model' of new build, as exemplified by Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), which owns and operates the Olkiluoto power plant to supply power to its 16 industrial shareholders at cost. Two large reactors have operated at the plant since the 1970s, while a third is under construction and a fourth one is planned.


Also in Finland is the Fennovoima project, where 70 industrial shareholders led by EOn are planning to build and operate a nuclear power plant.


Blue Sky thinking 



Producer of stainless steel as well as value-added specialty metals such as electrical steel and nickel alloys. 

Arcelor Mittal
Among the world's largest producers of steel, active in 20 countries. It produces 2 million tonnes per year in Belgium.
Aurubis Belgium

Produces a wide range of copper products and recovers this and other metals from a recycling business.

Sol Feluy

Produces gases for industrial and medical use, including acetylene, hydrogen, oxygen and refrigerants.


Produces a range of chemicals and materials for high-tech applications. A plastics business serves the aerospace, electrical, healthcare and semiconductor industries.

Produces, refines and recycles a range of chemicals and materials for use in batteries and tools as well as the manufacture of thin films and coatings.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News