The amendment to the CRM law, which should allow the phase-out of nuclear power, was adopted in second reading in committee in the House on Friday.
Former Minister of Energy Marie Christine Marghem (MR), who set up the CRM and was very critical of the projects in this area of Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen), who succeeded him, finally rallied to the majority. It has not tabled the amendment announced to frame the possible exceptions in terms of price limits. “I note that discussions will take place around the royal decree. In solidarity with the majority, I therefore agree not to table this amendment, but I will remain vigilant,” said Marie Christine Marghem.
Despite opposition from the N-VA, Vlaams Belang and PTB, the modification of the law proposed by the current Minister of Energy has been adopted and will be able to be voted on in plenary session next week. We know that the timing is tight, this change in the law being necessary to provide the legal basis for the royal decrees which should make it possible to prepare the first auctions, scheduled for October, without waiting for the green light from the European Commission, hoped for this summer.
For Febeg, there is a risk that the number of gas-fired power stations built will be insufficient to guarantee the phase-out of nuclear power after 2025.
As a reminder, the CRM aims to guarantee the security of electricity supply, by ensuring that production capacities are sufficient to meet demand. The mechanism consists of pay, after auction, for electricity production tools for the capacity they make available to the market when it’s necessary. Support which should in particular allow the construction of new gas-fired power stations.
Insufficient according to Febeg
Much ink has already been written about the cost of this mechanism. Tuesday, the Febeg, which represents electricity producers as well as electricity and gas suppliers, further considered that there was a risk that the number of gas-fired power plants built would be insufficient to guarantee the nuclear phase-out after 2025, when all Belgian nuclear reactors will have been closed. According to his calculations, only 2.2 to 2.5 GW of new power plants will be auctioned this fall, while the outgoing nuclear capacity is 6 GW. On the other hand, Febeg believes that the government expects too much from the second auction, scheduled for 2024, which will focus on storage via batteries or management of electricity demand.
In 2017, Elia estimated needs at a minimum of 3.6 GW in the event of a complete nuclear phase-out. Figures disputed by the Belgian regulator of the energy sector, Creg, who considered these estimates much too high.