WESTERN EUROPE

9.2.1 Belgium

There are currently 7 power reactor units operating in Belgium, Doel 1-4, and Tihange 1-3. These are all PWRs. In 2002, these plants produced 60% of domestic electricity, an increase of 2.3% compared with 2001. Although these plants continue to operate at the present time, Belgium announced a moratorium in 1999 on building new nuclear plants and a law was passed in 2002 providing for nuclear phase-out from 2015 onwards (European Commission, 2000; Foratom e-Bulletin, 2003a). This corresponds to reaching the 40-year limit on the operating lifetimes of the plants.

9.2.2 Finland

Finland operates four nuclear power reactors that generate about one-third of the country’s electricity (27% in 2003) (World Nuclear Association, 2003). The plants currently

operating are Swedish boiling water reactors, Olkiluoto 1 & 2, operated by TVO, and 2 Russian-designed VVER plants Loviisa 1 & 2 operated by Fortum.

The building of a fifth reactor was approved by the Finnish parliament in May 2002. This is a significant development within Western Europe, because it is the first decision for new build in over a decade. The intention is for the new plant, expected to be the first European pressurised water reactor (EPR), Table 9.1, to be in operation by 2009.

The application to build a new reactor has taken into account economic factors, security of energy supply, and environmental considerations. The economic criteria related to lowest electricity cost, various studies showed nuclear as the cheapest option. The significantly higher capital costs of building and initial fuel load were about three times that of a gas plant but the fuel costs are very much lower. Comparative costs of the nuclear, coal and natural gas options were estimated at 2.40, 3.18 and 3.21 EUR c per kWh on the basis of a 91% capacity factor, 5% interest rate and a 40-year plant life (Foratom e-Bulletin, 2003a), showing the nuclear option to be economically favourable. The nuclear option also showed the lowest sensitivity to possible fuel price increases.

The decision is consistent with the Finnish 1997 energy policy, which stressed availability, diversity of provider, price and security criteria for new energy generation. It also stressed the need to meet international commitments.

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