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Nuclear share in Belgium's 2021 power mix rises 10 percentage points on year to 52.4%

Highlights

Nuclear dominates as phase-out looms

Gas share plummets, wind/solar stable

Demand at 84.2 TWh 'back to normal'

Nuclear generation increased its share in Belgium's electricity mix by over 10 percentage points year on year to 52.4% in 2021, data from system operator Elia showed Dec. 7.

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Belgium is sticking to its "Plan A" nuclear generation phase-out date of 2025, Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten confirmed Dec. 23.

Strong nuclear output last year saw gas-fired output's share of the mix fall from 34.7% to 24.8% on the year, while wind and solar's share slipped from a combined 18.5% to 16.7%, the data showed.

Record-breaking exports increased by 59% versus 2020, meanwhile, with cross border trading increasing for a fifth year in a row. Gross exports of 21.7 TWh in 2021 were up from 13.7 TWh in 2020. Net exports were put at 6.6 TWh in 2021.

"The consumption of electricity in 2021 (which amounted to 84.2 TWh) returned to normal levels and was even slightly below the baseline," Elia said.

High gas prices, meanwhile, saw average day-ahead prices rise to Eur98.20/MWh last year from Eur31.90/MWh in 2020.

Political debate has raged in Belgium on the merits of extending the lives of two reactors, Tihange-3 and Doel-4 (both commissioned in 1985, both 1 GW), to offset the need for replacement gas-fired capacity.

Operator Engie has said it is already too late to reprieve the units, which would need extensive investments.

In the meantime, Belgium has awarded capacity market agreements to new gas plants, to be available by 2025 when Belgium plans to have closed all 5.9 GW of its existing nuclear plant.

BELGIUM: 2021 ELECTRICITY MIX

2021 (TWh)
2021 (% share generation mix)
2020 (TWh)
2020 (% share generation mix)
Nuclear
48.1
52.4
32.8
40.3
Gas
22.8
24.8
28.2
34.7
Offshore wind
6.7
7.3
6.7
8.3
Onshore wind
4
4.3
4.1
5
Solar
4.7
5.1
4.3
5.2
Biogas
2.1
2.2
2
2.5
Other
3.5
3.8
3.1
3.9

Source: Elia