Noise with nuclear exit makes investor drop out

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Entrepreneur André Jurres had plans to build a gas-fired power station in the port of Antwerp, but he is calling it quits. “With uncertainty about the nuclear exit again, it no longer makes sense for us.”

The fact that the Vivaldi coalition is once again postponing the decision to shut down the nuclear power plants is hard on the energy world.

Many had the impression that the last deadline had actually already passed. The new government had to make it clear whether nuclear power plants will remain open after 2025, or whether they will all have to close, as was already laid down in a law in 2003.

For investors with plans to build gas-fired power stations to replace nuclear power stations, the news is a cross the bill. ‘My enthusiasm was quite high to participate and submit a project for the construction of a gas-fired power station in the port of Antwerp,’ says energy entrepreneur André Jurres. “But with this new postponement around the nuclear exit, I can finally put my plans away.”



By not making a decision, the decision has actually already been made. In fact, you already know that they will keep two nuclear power plants open.

André Jurres

Director Volt Energy

The former founder of the energy supplier Essent had in mind with his project company Volt Energy a site on the Liberation Dock (ex-Delwaide Dock) as a location for a new gas-fired power station. The study work for the project was over, contacts were underway with potential international investors and Elia had already examined whether a connection to the high-voltage grid was possible, Jurres explains. “But if two nuclear power stations remain open, the project will no longer make sense,” he says.

‘The electricity price on the power exchange is already too low to make investments attractive. If 2,000 megawatts also continue to come from nuclear power stations, that problem will become even greater. I had the calculations done and you get an even bigger price distortion. It will then be very difficult for a newcomer to make a gas-fired power station profitable. ‘

Different candidates

Because Vivaldi only wants to make a final decision on a nuclear exit at the end of next year, Jurres assumes that keeping two nuclear power stations open will be a fait accompli. ‘By not making a decision, the decision has actually already been made,’ he says. ‘In fact, you already know that they will keep two nuclear power plants open. But if there is only real clarity about this at the end of next year, it will only be the established parties with a large market position who are still able to build a gas-fired power station. ‘



Surely it cannot be that a player will receive support for a gas-fired power plant at the end of next year, place orders and only then will a decision be made about nuclear.

Marc Van den Bosch

General manager Febeg

Various players have plans to compete for support that the government wants to allocate to projects through a subsidy mechanism (CRM). Engie Electrabel wants to invest 400 million euros in a new gas-fired power station in Vilvoorde and also has plans in Amercoeur near Liège. Luminus wants to build a gas-fired power station in Seraing, also near Liège.

The chemical company Tessenderlo

is considering building a second gas-fired power station at its home base, Het Belang van Limburg reports. With a capacity of 900 megawatts, it would be the largest in Belgium. Luc Tack’s company confirms the plans in the newspaper, but points out that the formal decision has not yet been taken. “We will only build this new power station in Tessenderlo if we can realize a profitable project at an acceptable risk,” says spokesman Frederic Dryhoel.

Swiss project developer Advanced Power has advanced plans to invest up to 650 million euros in the construction of Dils-Energie, a gas-fired power plant in Dilsen-Stokkem in Limburg. Eneco wants to build a gas-fired power station in Seneffe, in Hainaut.

‘Half-hearted decision’

The continuing uncertainty is a very bad thing for potential investors, according to Febeg, the federation of energy companies. “This new postponement is not good for anyone,” says CEO Marc Van den Bosch. ‘There is now a half-hearted decision not to actually decide yet. This creates great uncertainty for both Engie as an investor in nuclear and for investors in gas-fired power stations. Surely it cannot be that a player will receive support for a gas-fired power plant at the end of next year, place orders and only then will a decision be made about nuclear. Will people then decide afterwards that less new capacity for gas-fired power stations is needed? ‘

Febeliec, the federation of large power-consuming companies, calls the postponement of a decision of the nuclear exit ‘the worst possible scenario’. ‘This creates so much uncertainty that not only potential investors in new capacity are deterred. Nervousness in the markets also threatens to lead to a risk premium that drives up market prices for Belgian consumers. ‘

In any case, developer Dils-Energie will remain a candidate, but project manager Adrian Bobula warns that the lack of a decision about the nuclear exit will create additional uncertainty. That can help candidates who want to build a gas-fired power plant will play it safe and ask for more support for their project, adding up the cost of the grants.





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