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Energy crisis: Engie declares massive profits amid talks of extending nuclear power

12:58 23/05/2022

Suppliers have profited massively as a result of the explosion of energy prices, and Belgium is now asking for hard data on their earnings as the country looks to negotiate an extension of its two nuclear reactors. 

“Engie is making indecent profits in this energy crisis,” said Jean-Marc Nollet, co-president of the Ecolo party, reports RTBF.

Electrabel declared a profit of more than €1.9 billion in 2021 and paid dividends of €1.244 billion to its parent company, the French group Engie. 

The current year is likewise expected to bring a windfall. In its first quarter, Engie generated a gross margin of €4.6 billion, up 53% from last year’s €3 billion for the same period. Revenues from Belgium constituted a substantial portion of the profit. 

The new market situation greatly favours energy suppliers who count nuclear power and/or renewable energy within their portfolio. It’s also likely to play a role in the ongoing and complicated negotiations for reversing a planned phaseout of nuclear power in Belgium that involves keeping two of the country’s newest reactors open. 

Ecolo says that with the margins currently generated by the energy company, it’s necessary to renegotiate a significant tax. But Engie, which has been adamant that extending the use of the reactors is no easy matter and requires five-year time frame, is negotiating from a strong position.

Among the areas the energy supplier would like to renegotiate, is the terms of the agreement on dismantling and waste management.

“Given its scale, this potential extension would present a risk profile that extends beyond the normal activities of a private operator,” it wrote in its quarterly report. 

“Engie would therefore only engage in such a project as part of a balanced risk-sharing approach, with a defined, stable and viable regulatory framework for the required investment, including a clear framework for decommissioning and nuclear waste management.”

 

Written by Helen Lyons