April 5, 2019 / 2:34 PM / a year ago

Belgium to boost wind and gas power as it phases out nuclear

BRUSSELS, April 5 (Reuters) - Belgium’s parliament has passed two bills aimed at spurring investment in gas-fired power generation and building 4,000 megawatt of new offshore wind farm capacity by 2030 to replace its aging nuclear power reactors.

The bills were approved by a wide majority late on Thursday, Energy Minister Marie-Christine Marghem said in separate Twitter and Facebook posts on Friday.

When completed, the wind farms will cover around 20 percent of Belgian electricity consumption, she said.

Belgium has decided to phase out nuclear power by 2025, which means the country needs to develop new capacity to replace its seven nuclear reactors operated by Engie unit Electrabel. The reactors have capacity of around 6,000 MW and generate around 50 percent of the country’s electricity.

Maintenance and repair problems prolonged outages at six of the seven reactors last year, plunging Belgium into an unprecedented crisis. It had to scramble for additional power from neighbours and emergency diesels generators to meet peak winter demand. (Reporting by Bate Felix Editing by Geert De Clercq)

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