Nuclear power: large-scale projects
Our first nuclear power plants were commissioned in 1975 and we have constantly strived to continuously improve the efficiency of operations and safety at all units ever since. We take into account the results and recommendations of multiple assessments so that we can take the right steps to guarantee the safety of nuclear facilities 24/7. This often involves considerable work and investment. Several major projects are currently underway to secure the future operation of our reactors.
Long Term Operation (LTO)
In connection with the extension of the operating lifetime of the Doel 1, Doel 2 and Tihange 1 nuclear reactors, we have drawn up Long Term Operation (LTO) action plans outlining the investments and measures needed to extend the operation of these power plants by 10 years. Belgium’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC/AFCN) deemed the suggested approach and associated improvement plans to be suitable and approved the continued operation of the 3 units.
Following the authorities’ decision in 2012 to extend the operating lifetime of Tihange 1 (commissioned in October 1975) by 10 years up to 2025 and the agreement we concluded with the authorities on the conditions of the extension, the Tihange 1 LTO plan (which consists of around 100 projects) was implemented. It represents an investment of €600 million.
Doel 1 and 2
The operating lifetime of the Doel 1 and 2 nuclear reactors (which were commissioned in February and December 1975 respectively) has been extended for 10 years up to 2025 following an agreement on the legal and economic framework of this extension concluded with the Belgian federal government in November 2015. The LTO action plan implemented for the reactors requires an investment of €700 million. It also takes into account the results of other reports (e.g. BEST – Belgian Stress Tests).More information on the FANC website
BEST: Belgian Stress Tests
Following the earthquake and tsunami which seriously damaged Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, Europe decided to subject all nuclear power plants to stress tests. These tests aimed to reassess the safety margins of nuclear power plants under extreme conditionsBEST, kort voor Belgian Stress Tests
The Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC/AFCN) has extensively analysed our BEST reports for Doel and Tihange and concluded that the nuclear power plants could safety withstand extreme situations and that essential safety functions would continue to operate. The Agency has drawn up an improvement action plan, which incorporated recommendations from the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG). We are working with the Agency to roll out the improvement initiatives at both power plants.
Belgium’s nuclear power plants are some of the strongest
ENSREG has analysed the stress test results for all European nuclear power plants. Based on its report, the European Commission concluded that Belgium’s nuclear power plants are among the strongest.
Expect the unexpected
One of the biggest projects among the various measures planned to further enhance the capacity to withstand unexpected events involved building a flood wall to protect the Tihange site from the risk of the Meuse flooding heavily.More information on the FANC website
Meticulous inspection of the vessels of Doel 3 and Tihange 2
Inspections conducted throughout the summer of 2012 revealed the presence of hydrogen flakes (DDH) in the reactor vessels of Doel 3 and Tihange 2, which required in-depth analysis. After 10 months spent inspecting and analysing the resistance of the reactor vessels in question, the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC/AFCN) gave both units the green light to restart operations in June 2013.
An additional test cycle was coupled to the restart of the nuclear reactors with a view to assessing the long-term behaviour of these reactor vessels. Following the unsatisfactory results produced by a test on irradiated materials, in March 2014 ENGIE Electrabel decided to anticipate for the scheduled shutdowns of the two reactors and to expand its analysis to verify and explain these results.
Over 1,500 tests
A cycle of mechanical tests and metallurgy evaluations has been introduced; over 1,500 tests on materials have been conducted. The vessels were reassessed according to more sensitive criteria. Based on the files submitted by Electrabel, the FANC/AFCN authorised the safe restart of both units in November 2015.More information on the FANC website