EU Commission approves Belgian support scheme for nuclear plants

EPA/JULIEN WARNAND

The nuclear power plant in Doel, Belgium. 

EU Commission approves Belgian support scheme for nuclear plants


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The European Commission on Friday cleared a Belgian support scheme to compensate the operators of three nuclear reactors for potential financial risk, saying the measure was in line with EU state aid rules.

The European Commission has found Belgian plans to compensate Engie-Electrabel and EDF Belgium for potential financial risks linked to long-term operation of three nuclear reactors(Tihange 1, Doel 1 and Doel 2) to be in line with EU state aid rules.

Under the EU Treaties, Member States are free to determine their energy mix and have the choice to invest in nuclear technology. The Commission’s role is to ensure that, when public funds are used to support companies, this is done in line with EU state aid rules, which aim to preserve competition in the Single Market.

Belgium had agreed with operators Engie and EDF that the companies would invest 1.3 billion euros in three ageing reactors to keep them running for another 10 years, in exchange for certain guarantees.

The companies would receive compensation from Belgium if the state decided to close the reactors earlier or change the level of nuclear tax.

The Commission, which acts as the competition watchdog in the European Union, said that while the two companies were given an economic advantage Belgium was able to prove that there would be no undue distortions of the country’s energy market.

Engie will each year sell a volume equivalent to its share of the annual production at the three reactors concerned on regulated electricity markets, which the Commission said would increase competition.

There will be an obligation on Engie-Electrabel, i.e. the major player on Belgian electricity markets, to sell on regulated electricity markets each year a volume equivalent to Engie-Electrabel’s share of the annual production of Tihange 1, Doel 1 and Doel 2. It will ensure liquidity on Belgian electricity markets and help increase competition between electricity suppliers. On this basis, the Commission has approved the measures under EU state aid rules.

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