The thunderous statements of the new chairman of the board of Electrabel about his wish to extend 2 or 3 nuclear reactors from 10 to 20 years have provoked a number of reactions in the media, the political world and of course from the very media « expert » in energy, engineer and professor at the University of Liege, Damien Ernst. Recall some of the good words of Johnny Thijs, delivered to the newspaper Le Soir of September 5, which however specifies that « it is up to the politicians to decide « :

-  » In my humble opinion, if we want to stick to the nuclear phase-out, we have to ask ourselves the question of its feasibility by 2025.  »

-  » And when I look at the impact of an extension on security of supply, on CO2 emissions, and on prices, I think my case is not too bad.  »

Of course, one should not expect the truth to come out of the mouth of this newly promoted nuclear scientist, any more than from that of the aforementioned engineer, a confirmed nuclear scientist. Indeed, how can one imagine ensuring the security of a country’s electricity supply with reactors that, logically, are showing increasing weaknesses, simply because of their obsolescence, with the result that in recent years the average utilization rate has been 70% instead of the 90–95% considered normal for this type of reactor? Moreover, one has to have a short memory not to remember the 10-month shutdown of two of the three oldest reactors, D1 and D2, due to a leak in the primary circuit, just last year.

And what about this nonsense about nuclear power being good for reducing CO2 emissions? A single 1 GW reactor requires the extraction of about 200,000 tons of uranium ore per year. After the extraction of the ore, the crushing, refining, enrichment and fuel rod manufacturing processes also require a lot of energy and are therefore also a source of greenhouse gas emissions. In comparison, a wind farm requires only wind as « fuel ».

As for the question of « price », nuclear power has always been and will always be more expensive than other forms of electricity production, as recently demonstrated by this  study by a German economic research institute This is obviously at the expense of the paying pig, the citizen.

More worryingly, it also seems that the truth will not come from the mainstream media either. For example, here is what the RTBF says in its news of the day:  » Today, nuclear power is indispensable for the production of electricity  » and to justify this statement by showing the flamboyant diagram of the « energy mix » of September, implacable:  » 60.5% for nuclear electricity in September « . It is forgotten that nuclear power provides the « base » of the supply: it has priority over the other sectors, and nuclear power plants always produce at their maximum capacity at the time, because it is not possible to modulate their power. So much so that Electrabel sometimes pays our neighbors to absorb our excess electricity production or to light our highways during the day. This famous mix only shows the production, not the consumption… Despite this substantial advantage given to the nuclear sector, the reality is that over the last 7 years, the Belgian nuclear sector has only supplied 37–38% of the consumption, very far from the 60.5% mentioned by the RTBF journalist. We will not be surprised by this slip if we check the source of the data invoked, nothing else than the « Belgian Nuclear Forum », the communication organ of the nuclear lobby known for the millions of euros it has at its disposal each year for its propaganda campaigns (see the image extracted from the TV news opposite where the mention « Nuclear Forum » appears very discreetly).

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Francis Leboutte

President of Fin du nucléaire asbl

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