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Belgian 1 GW Doel 4 nuclear reactor back online two days ahead of schedule


Half of Belgian nuclear capacity still unavailable

Reactor had been offline since August

London — Belgium's 1 GW Doel 4 nuclear reactor was back online Thursday, two days ahead of schedule following an extended outage, operator Engie Electrabel said.

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The reactor has been offline since August to repair concrete degradation in a bunker building and was scheduled to restart Saturday.

Nuclear safety regulator AFNC approved the restart on December 8 with the operator ramping up the unit to full capacity by the weekend, it said.

Belgium is facing a severe nuclear shortfall this winter with only three of its seven reactors available.

Exceptional measures by Engie Electrabel have helped to secure supply with some 1,200 MW local capacity freed up including the return of the mothballed Vilvoorde gas plant (255 MW) and mobile generation units with 420 MW capacity, it said.

The government has also secured arrangements with France and Germany to maximize import flows to offset the nuclear shortfall this winter.

However, France itself may face tight nuclear supply from mid-January with a number of its reactors scheduled to come offline for extended maintenance.

The 1 GW NEMO link to the UK has entered its commissioning phase, but no interconnector flows have yet taken place, according to real-time data on the Elexon website, with full commissioning scheduled for Q1 2019.

--Andreas Franke,

--Edited by Daniel Lalor,