A general view showing the nuclear power plant in Tihange, Belgium. The plant, with a capacity of 900 MW, was permanently disconnected on 31 January 2023. Three of Belgium's plants are scheduled to close permanently just months before the winter of 2025-26. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER MATTHYS


Nuclear energy: attitudes of Belgians flip due to Ukraine war


Belgium has seen a sharp rise in support for use of nuclear power, with only Greens now opposing it.

85 per cent of Belgians now believe nuclear power has a place in the future’s electricity mix.

This is up from just 43 per cent in 2021, and 30 per cent in 2017.

An independent research company conducted the poll for the Nuclear Forum, an association of companies and trade associations working in the nuclear sector.

The poll also asked how respondents vote.

Over 80 per cent of all parties other than the Greens supported including nuclear power in the country’s energy mix.

Green party members were isolated, but even 40 per cent of those viewed nuclear energy favourably.

Only 13 per cent of respondents want Belgium to continue on a path of discontinuing nuclear energy, as is still the current aim of the country’s legislation.

Belgium’s government announced Wednesday it is joining a consortium with the US, Italy, and Romania to develop small nuclear power plants.

The international group will develop lead-cooled small modular reactors (SMR) to reduce radioactive waste and make better use of uranium.

Eighty-seven per cent of Belgians want the country to invest in developing and building Small Modular Reactors, though this would require changing the country’s current laws.

In 1999, PM Guy Verhofstadt’s government, which included the green parties Groen! and Ecolo, introduced a plan to phase out nuclear power by 2025.

The energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed public views on the issue radically.

In March 2022, Belgium decided to postpone closing two of its seven reactors by ten years.

The poll suggests energy will be a hot topic ahead of Belgium’s next elections in June 2024.

Seventy-eight per cent say Belgium’s approach to the energy situation will impact a large portion of the country’s people. Fifteen per cent say it is a decisive issue.

“Belgians show a sober attitude towards preserving this reliable and low-carbon energy source, taking into account the current energy and climate crisis”, concludes the Nuclear Forum.