In 2018 the nuclear tax will amount to 170.4 million euros. This is the lowest level of all time, except in 2016. And that should not be continued in 2019.
The nuclear tax on the seven Belgian reactors will rise in 2018 EUR 170.4 million as a whole, learns the L Echo. This is the lowest level ever achieved by the nuclear tax except in 2016, where the figure was still lower at 159.9 million.
This is not a real surprise for those who are closely following the feat of the availability of the Belgian nuclear fleet and the successive reforms of this nuclear tax. It now depends, for the most part, of the margin made by the owners of the power stations (In particular Electrabel, but to a lesser extent EDF and EDF Luminus) in the previous year. Gold 2017 was characterized by low electricity prices and low availability of the Belgian nuclear fleet – only 80% less than 2016.
"The 2018 tax for Doel 3, Doel 4, Tihange 2 and Tihange 3 is set at 150.4 million, the minimum expected", confirms the ministry council of Energy Minister Marie Christine Marghem (MR). A royal decree has been adopted on this issue, but not yet published on the screen. In Doel 1 and 2, as provided for in the agreement to extend these two reactors, Electrabel will have to pay a fixed fee of EUR 20 million. In Tihange 1, the end will be against zero euro due to the negative margin.
The nuclear tax was introduced in 2008 by Paul Magnette (PS), then Minister of Energy in the Verhofstadt government. Because it was not in a position to negotiate it with the owners of the power plants, it imposed it by law. Objective: To tax the famous nuclear rent, that is to say super profits that operators Doel and Tihange, which had redeemed their reactors in 20 years.
Electrabel's parent company then decides to occupy the Constitutional Court. For four years this tax is fixed at a flat rate of EUR 250 million.
Then, Melchior Wathelet (cdH) takes over the energy portfolio. And the governmental agreement Di Rupo predicts to increase this tax to EUR 600 million – or more precisely 549 million, following the application of a decreasing formula. Gérard Mestrallet, the boss of GDF Suez, sets his voice. But the courts, in many cases, will be wrong.
In 2012, Doel 3 and Tihange 2 are closed due to microarrays that affect their tanks. Melchior Wathelet makes a gesture and introduces his beginninga discount on the package EUR 549 million in case of unavailability of certain reactors. In 2013, the nuclear tax is reduced to 481.1 million and 2014 to 469.3 million.
When the Di Rupo government decides in 2013 to extend Tihange 1 for 10 years, Energy Minister Melchior Wathelet also predicts that this reactor specific fee system:
→ Beyond a certain electricity price, estimated at EUR 41.8 per MWh, 70% of the profits will be for the state.
Melchior Wathelet then hopes to pocket at least 1 billion in ten years in this unique reactor. We are far from this: the fee for Tihange 1 finally rose to 9.9 million euros in 2016. In 2017 and 2018, it is zero euro. Accuse him of the diving prices of electricity.
Meanwhile, as part of the expansion of Doel 1 and 2, Energy Minister Marie Christine Marghem has reformed the rest of the system. It has to be said that Creg, the federal energy regulator, has re-examined its estimates of nuclear profit below: between 421 and 507 million in 2014, compared to almost 1.8 billion in 2007. Blame the price of electricity and the unavailability of certain reactors.
This should not happen in 2019, given the availability of nuclear energy.
In return for the expansion of Doel 1 and 2, where it will invest 600 million euros, Engie Electrabel will significantly reduce the nuclear tax: Doel 1 and 2 will be subject to a fixed price of 20 million euros by 2016. For the rest of the fleet, this is 200 million euros in 2015, 130 million in 2016 and 40% state discount from the margin of the four most recent reactors since 2017 – with all even a floor of 150 million euros per annum for the period 2017-2019. This floor, we're there.
This should not be continued in 2019: Engie Electrabel expects the availability of its nuclear fleet 52% in 2018. And by 2020, Creg has to revise this floor in line with the evolution of the economic reality of the moment.