* GDF Suez will now unveil plans for nuclear
* Two other reactors to close in 2015
(Adds quotes, background)
BRUSSELS, July 4 Belgium's cabinet postponed the
planned closure of one of its oldest nuclear reactors by a
decade on Wednesday over concerns the country may not be able to
generate enough alternative energy.
The Belgian cabinet approved a plan to keep the 1975 Tihange
1 reactor, owned by GDF Suez unit Electrabel, open
until 2025, 10 years longer than planned.
However, it overturned a proposal to delay by one year the
planned 2015 closure of Electrabel's two 1975 reactors at Doel
in northern Belgium.
"What is important is to guarantee security of supply for
the country, and that at the best price, that was my mission,"
Melchior Wathelet, state secretary in charge of energy, told
"Today I want to say that Belgium has a vision in regards to
electricity and it's true that was missing for a number of
The agreement now has to be voted upon by Belgium's
parliament, however that is seen as largely a formality after
A report prepared for the Belgian government earlier this
year showed the country was at risk of electricity shortages if
the three oldest reactors were taken off the grid as planned in
The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011
prompted several nations to spur plans to exit the sector.
Belgium has long considered a complete exit, but the move
depends on it having enough alternative sources of energy in
Around 57 percent of the country's electricity supply came
from nuclear reactors in 2011.
Belgium's decision clears the way for GDF Suez to reveal its
new nuclear strategy, although a spokeswoman for Electrabel said
the company needed more information.
"This decision ... does not contain enough precision, or the
necessary clarity to allow us to take a decision on the future
of our nuclear activities in Belgium," the spokeswoman said.
Nuclear power took up 10 percent of GDF Suez's total energy
production of 465 TWh last year - down from 13 percent in 2010.
That compared with 55 percent in gas and 13 percent of hydro
power as it brought gas-fired power plants, dams and wind farms
on line in Latin America and Asia.
GDF Suez's goal to keep its nuclear power share unchanged in
its energy mix until 2030 is being challenged partly by its
absence in key nuclear projects, dominated by EDF and
Areva, Westinghouse or ZAO Atomstroyexport.
GDF Suez's shares fell nearly 5 percent when Belgium agreed
last year to carry on with its nuclear exit plans, however they
were broadly unchanged after the cabinet decision.
(Reporting by Ben Deighton in Brussels and Benjamin Mallet in
Paris, editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Jason Neely)