A study commissioned by the Belgian energy ministry has concluded that a major review of current energy policy, including nuclear phase out, is required in order to meet other policy objectives, such as environmental goals.

The preliminary study, ‘Belgium’s Energy Challenges towards 2030’ concludes that the substantial change in circumstances since the nuclear phase out law was passed “requires a paradigm shift of the current official Belgian standpoint on nuclear power.” Along with a major reconsideration of the current nuclear phase-out policy increased use of renewables and energy diversity and efficiency is also advocated in the report.

The study concludes that to maintain the current policy of phasing out nuclear energy by 2025 would effectively undermine the Belgian economy and significantly increase carbon emissions, “Therefore, Belgium is advised to keep the nuclear option open and should reconsider the nuclear phase out,” the study says.

The report also adds that upon lifting the nuclear phase-out law, an agreement with the owners of the Belgian nuclear power plants should be reached, for stimulating investments in energy savings and demand-side management, developments in renewable energy, and for development and research in emerging energy technologies and carriers.

Santiago San Antonio director general of Foratom, the European trade association for the nuclear energy industry, said: “The results of this Belgian study reflect how a new spirit of pragmatism among European policy-makers is fuelling the use of all sources of energy, especially the low CO2-emitting ones, and the nuclear revival.”

Following further review by government and independent panels the final report is due in June 2007.