The International Energy Agency has urged Belgium to adopt a national long term energy strategy in order to meet the challenges of decarbonisation, security of supply and affordability of energy.

In a review of energy policies in Belgium, the IEA says that the country’s federal and regional governments need to work together to mobilise investment and develop a viable electricity market design.

IEA Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol said that the organisation’s review had rung "alarm bells" because of a lack of investment from the private sector. "To avoid a lack of generation capacity in the medium term, Belgium could consider operating their nuclear power plants as long as they are certified to be safe by the regulator," Birol added.

The IEA acknowledges Belgium’s progress in increasing levels of competition in its energy markets as well as the growth of renewable energy. It has also called for greater energy efficiency measures to be implemented.

One of the most pressing issues in Belgium is its nuclear energy policy. Nuclear energy accounts for around half of Belgium’s electricity generation, but the current policy is to close the nuclear power plants between 2022 and 2025.

The report cautions that this would seriously challenge Belgium’s efforts to ensure electricity security and provide affordable low-carbon electricity. Allowing the plants to run as long as they are considered safe by the regulator would ease electricity security pressures, would reduce the costs of electricity generation in the medium term, would likely reduce the costs of the phase-out itself and would create time for investments in alternative generation options.

"It is of the utmost importance that Belgium’s policy on nuclear power is consistent with its objectives regarding electricity security and climate change mitigation," Birol stressed.