The Minister of Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten, estimated Thursday evening at two billion euros the amount of excess profits made by the Engie Electrabel group thanks to its nuclear reactors not subject to an extension of their lifespan.
“We asked the CREG (the Electricity and Gas Regulatory Commission, an independent body, editor’s note) to calculate these excess profits. They amount to two billion for non-extended nuclear power plants“, she said during the program Jeudi en Prime on RTBF.
According to Mrs Van der Straeten (Groen), some 700 million euros could thus be recovered from the “extraordinary profits linked to the crisisHis calculation is quite close to that made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V).
According to him, the skimming of superprofits from energy companies should pay off “at least an equivalent amount” to the distribution contribution already imposed on the nuclear sector. “Today, the nuclear income brings in 750 million euros. If we look at the other sectors, we need at least an equivalent amount“, he said on Wednesday during the Terzake program of the VRT.
For several weeks, the government has been considering the possibility of “skim“the surplus profits made by energy companies. The necessary measures will be taken to this effect, the consultation committee confirmed on Wednesday.
A working group made up of experts from the CREG, the FPS Economy and the FPS Finances has been tasked with examining where these excess profits are located, whether they can be captured in Belgium and what tax and legal instruments can be used to this end.
The Minister of Energy assured Thursday evening that there were legal means allowing the government to recover part of these excess profits.
Of the seven nuclear reactors in Belgium (four in Doel, near Antwerp, and three in Tihange), two are due to close in the coming months: Doel 3 (with a capacity of one gigawatt) on October 1 and Tihange 2 (of an identical capacity) on February 1, 2023.
The government has agreed on a ten-year extension of the two most recent reactors, Tihange 3 and Doel 4 beyond 2025, the date on which Belgium was supposed to phase out nuclear power. These two reactors should be operational in October-November 2026 so that the security of the country’s energy supply is guaranteed at the start of winter 2026-2027.
But voices are being raised within Vivaldi to extend more reactors or not to dismantle those of Doel 3 and Tihange 2 irreversibly.