The Belgian parliament voted in favour of phasing out all seven of its nuclear power reactors today. With this historic vote Belgium joins the majority of EU member states who are either non-nuclear or have their own phase out plans.
Wind turbine erected by Greenpeace activists in front of the Doel nuclear power plant to protest discrimination against renewable energy by the Belgian government.
Currently only Finland has plans for new reactors and the UK is
reviewing its policy. This vote as an essential first step towards
a much faster shutdown of nuclear power in Belgium.
The Belgian coalition of liberals, socialists and greens
established a ban on the construction of new nuclear power plants
and limited the license of the existing seven nuclear reactors to a
maximum of 40 years.
Belgium currently gets almost 60 percent of its electricity from
nuclear energy and is the second largest user of nuclear power in
Europe after France. The fact that Belgium is turning its back on
nuclear energy send a strong message to the industry that nuclear
power is a dead end and that new investments in clean and renewable
technologies is the way forward.
Under this new law, all reactors will close by 2025 at the
latest but does not prevent the Belgium's nuclear safety authority
from closing down any reactor earlier than planned on safety
The closure of the oldest three reactors is planned for 2015 and
is a matter of urgency. Industry documents made public earlier this
year have shown that these reactors had leaks. These old
Chessna-class reactors can barely withstand a crash of a light
sports airliner at moderate speed, making them vulnerable targets
for terrorist attacks. The old reactors are ticking time bombs
threatening the European population and should be closed at
Despite the nuclear industry's rhetoric of a 'nuclear
renaissance', the reality is that Europe is in fact abandoning this
And Belgium has no need for nuclear power. Last summer, we
showed Belgium it could tap into the massive, practically
unlimited, potential of offshore wind generation on the North sea
which surpasses the total electricity consumption of North sea
countries, thus ending the traditional belief that Belgium has only
a very limited renewable potential. Combined with other
technologies, such as cogeneration and energy efficiency, Belgium
could replace its last reactor within 10 to 15 years.
According to the Belgian parliamentary system the Senate has the
right to call for a further debate on the legislation before it can
enter into force.