The evolution of nuclear power in sustainable energy management: an overview.

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Nuclear energy, a topic that has been on the minds of the energy management world for decades, has an interesting history and complex dynamics, especially here in Belgium. At Odot, as a partner in Energy Accounting, it is crucial to have an in-depth understanding of the role nuclear energy plays and will play in our energy landscape.

1. History of nuclear power.

Nuclear power emerged as a promising technology for energy production in the second half of the 20th century. The first commercial nuclear power plants were built in view of the growing demand for electricity and the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. In our country, nuclear energy played an increasing role in energy supply, with plants such as those at Doel and Tihange providing a significant share of our electricity. Indeed, by 2022, more than 40 per cent of gross electricity production came from nuclear power.

2. Evolution of nuclear power in Belgium.

Over the years, however, the role of nuclear power in Belgium has changed. Although it was once considered the future of energy production, there are now more concerns about the safety, cost and long-term effects of nuclear power. Nevertheless, nuclear power remains an important source of electricity in our country, albeit with a declining trend.

3. Advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power.

It is important to understand both the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power. On the one hand, nuclear power can help reduce CO2 emissions compared to fossil fuels, such as gas power plants. This is because nuclear power plants do not emit greenhouse gases during electricity production. On the other hand, nuclear power comes with risks, such as the likelihood of nuclear accidents and the challenges of safely managing nuclear waste. The decomposition of nuclear waste can take many thousands of years, raising concerns about the long-term effects on the environment.

4. Climate impact.

Although nuclear power presents some challenges in terms of nuclear waste management, it can play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions. This is especially the case when comparing nuclear power with other forms of power generation, such as gas-fired plants. Because nuclear power plants do not emit CO2 during energy production, they can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

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5. Future of nuclear power.

Nuclear planning in Belgium shows a gradual phase-out of nuclear power production in the coming years. Until October 2022, all nuclear reactors at Doel and Tihange were operational. From 2023 and 2024, Doel 3 and Tihange 2 have already been permanently shut down, leading to reduced capacity. In 2025, Doel 4 and Tihange 3 remain active, but Doel 1, Doel 2 and Tihange 1 will be prepared for permanent closure. By 2026 and 2027, only Doel 4 and Tihange 3 will remain operational, however with further reduced capacity.


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