December 24, 2018 / 4:48 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Engie's Belgium Tihange 3 reactor to restart, easing power cut fears

(Adds details, background)

PARIS, Dec 24 (Reuters) - Engie Electrabel, the Belgian subsidiary of French energy group Engie, will restart its Tihange 3 nuclear reactor after completing repair works, easing fears of winter power shortages in Belgium.

The company said it received clearance from Belgium’s AFCN regulator on Dec. 24 and the Belgian reactor was now expected back on the electricity grid by January 7, nearly two months ahead of the initial start date of March 2.

The restart of Tihange 3 could ease Belgium’s power supply worries after six of the country’s seven nuclear reactors were forced offline for prolonged repairs due to concrete degradation and maintenance outages in September.

Fears of winter power shortages and blackouts sent wholesale Belgian power prices to record highs. Nuclear power from the seven reactors operated by Engie accounts for around 50 percent of Belgian power needs.

Engie said in a statement that with the restart of Tihange 3, in addition to three other reactors, around 4,000 megawatts of nuclear capacity would be available in Belgium during winter.

It also said that it had arranged around 1,270 MW of additional capacity through a gas-fired plant, mobile diesel generators, curbs on industrial power use and imports from neighbouring countries, which will see it through winter. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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