Belgium needs nuclear and renewables, report finds

10 October 2016

Belgium will only be able to meet its climate goals while achieving long-term electricity price stability and security of supply if it uses a combination of nuclear and renewable energy, according to a new study by PwC Enterprise Advisory.

The study was commissioned and published by country's trade body, Forum Nucléaire, to look at three scenarios to 2050 and consider their success against criteria of security of supply, electricity price competitiveness and stability, and meeting climate objectives. The first scenario sees a phaseout of nuclear power by 2025, as called for under current Belgian government policy. The second scenario sees nuclear capacity maintained at current levels of about 6 GWe, while the third assumes the continued use of 3 GWe of nuclear capacity, about half today's levels.

The study is based mainly on official quantitative data, including data from Belgian grid operator Elia, the International Energy Agency, the Energy Technology Research Institute (ETRI) and the Belgian federal planning bureau. All three scenarios include an increase in renewable energy from today's 15.7% share of Belgian production to 44.3% in 2030 and 67.4% in 2050, as per federal plans.

The study found that climate targets could not be met in the nuclear phaseout scenario. Even with 'massive' development of renewable energy sources, a nuclear phaseout would lead to a 'considerable deterioration' in Belgium's carbon footprint by 2050, with the country needing to resort to imports and 'more expensive power plants', it found. Only the scenario combining renewables with 6 GWe of nuclear capacity was found to be capable of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to be in line with Belgian and European objectives.

The study found that without nuclear capacity, Belgian generation would not be enough to meet the country's demand. By 2050, with 3 GWe nuclear capacity the country would still need to cover about 16.5% of its needs from conventional power plants or imports, but nuclear capacity of 6 GWe would even produce a small surplus, allowing the country to be an exporter of electricity. It also found the inclusion of nuclear in the energy mix would help to keep electricity costs competitive 'when the mix will comprise a significant share of renewable sources whose average production cost is higher.'

'This study demonstrates the advantageous compatibility between renewable and nuclear energy,' said the director of Forum Nucléaire, Marielle Rogie.

Belgium's seven operating nuclear reactors - four at Doel and three at Tihange - currently produce about half of the country's electricity. Under current Belgian law, nuclear power is to be phased out by 2025.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News