Title
Belgian nuclear power life extension and fuss about nuclear rents
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Applied Economics
Publication type
article
Publication
Guildford ,
Subject
Economics
Source (journal)
Energy policy. - Guildford, 1973, currens
Volume/pages
60(2013) , p. 91-97
ISSN
0301-4215
1873-6777
ISI
000323530900009
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Nuclear decision-making is embedded in slowly evolving political, economic and financial institutions. Belgium houses extended nuclear activities, mostly under French control, for example: SUEZ-GDF and EDF own all Belgian nuclear power plants. But a 2003 law mandates the closure of Belgium's nuclear power plants at a service age of 40 years; only force majeure could lift the strict obligation. Opposition to the law argued with climate change danger, financial losses, and loss-of-load risks. The financial issue got interwoven with a fuzzy debate on the definition, height and appropriation of nuclear rents. As plausible hypothesis is adopted: the prospected transfer of hundreds millions of euro from power companies to the public interest will create public support for life extension. But the nuclear rents discussion had faded in July 2012 when the Belgian government admitted a 10-year life extension for TIHANGE I (962 MW) and imposed the closure of the 2×433 MW DOEL I and II. Loss-of-load risk was the government's only public argument. The opacity of the decision process and its fiftyfifty outcome do not allow proper testing of the hypothesis. The case illustrates that politicians cannot bind their followers except through the deployment of alternative power sources.
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