No CO₂ is released during the production of electricity in nuclear power plants, because there is no combustion of fossil fuels as in conventional thermal power stations. CO₂ is one of the factors responsible for global warming. In Belgium, we save 14 million tonnes of CO₂ a year thanks to nuclear energy. That is the same amount as the emissions of half the vehicle fleet.

Nuclear power, which currently accounts for about 15% of the total electricity production on earth, saves about 2.1 billion tonnes of CO₂ per year worldwide. In the European Union, nuclear energy saves 675 million tonnes of CO₂ per year. To match that without nuclear power, all passenger cars have to be taken out of European traffic.

Renewable energy and nuclear power are not competitors. On the contrary. They both emit little CO₂ and complement each other. As important as renewable energy is, it is not yet sufficient to meet current electricity demand. The reason is simple: the wind does not always blow, nor does the sun shine around the clock, and the technical solutions for storing surplus wind and solar energy are not yet effective enough.

 

What is modulation?

If Belgium does not have enough wind or solar energy, the nuclear power plants can ensure that there is enough electricity on the Belgian market. Nuclear power plants therefore provide stability and guaranteed energy production.

Unfortunately, an oversupply of renewable energy (on days when weather conditions are excellent) cannot be stored for the time being. Nuclear power plants may temporarily reduce their power output to offset oversupply and negative prices. This is called modulating.

Modulation ensures that renewable energy and nuclear power can complement each other. In Belgium, it has been authorized since 2012 to modulate certain nuclear power plants for economic reasons. The safety authorities (FANC) have determined the conditions on the basis of several feasibility studies and technical insights.

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