The Dutch government aims for the Netherlands to be climate-neutral by 2050. To that end, it is working to ensure that electricity production is carbon-neutral by 2040 at the latest. Nuclear energy can play a major role in achieving this goal. With that in mind, the government is looking to continue using nuclear energy in the Netherlands and to expand production capacity. So why has the government decided on this course of action?
Why nuclear energy?
The Netherlands will need a variety of clean energy sources to achieve its climate goals, which include zero-emission electricity production by 2040. Diversifying our energy supply enables us to continue meeting the growing demand for energy. This will make the Netherlands less dependent on energy delivery from abroad, as is now the case for oil and gas.
Nuclear power plants do not emit CO2 and they produce energy regardless of weather conditions. This makes nuclear power a good complement to solar and wind energy. Electricity production by nuclear power plants is very predictable and constant. Nuclear power plants can generate electricity every day, around the clock. They also produce a relatively large amount of electricity, while taking up a relatively small amount of space as compared to, for example, wind farms. Another advantage is the fact that nuclear power plants have a relatively long life – 60 to 80 years – during which time they can generate a lot of electricity.
The government wants to continue with and expand nuclear energy production in the Netherlands.
- extending the life of the existing nuclear power plant in Borssele
- taking preparatory steps for the construction of two new nuclear power plants
- updating the National Programme for the Management of Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel
- enhancing the knowledge infrastructure for nuclear energy.
Keeping the Borssele nuclear power plant operational
The government would like to keep the Borssele nuclear power plant operational for longer than its current closing date in 2033, provided that this can be done safely. This is being done not only to meet the climate goals but also to ensure a stable electricity supply. Retaining people with specialised nuclear knowledge and experience is important for expanding our nuclear energy production capacity in the future. Currently, Borssele is a centre for that knowledge. In order to keep the Borssele plant operational, environmental impact studies are being conducted. The Nuclear Energy Act will also need to be amended to keep the plant operating after 2033.
Two new nuclear power plants
It takes between 6 and 10 years to build a nuclear power plant, on top of several years of preparation. In this preparation phase, studies are being conducted about location options and technical feasibility, environmental impact assessments, permitting, tendering and financing. The government anticipates that the preparations (including permitting procedures) will take until around 2028. This means two new nuclear power plants could be up and running by 2035.
Updating the National Programme for Radioactive Waste
All European Union member states must draw up a national programme for the management of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel every 10 years. It describes how a country intends to deal with this waste, now and in the future. The Netherlands’ first National Programme for the Management of Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel appeared in 2016. It must be updated by 2025.
Strengthening the knowledge infrastructure
In the Netherlands a relatively small group of people work in the nuclear power industry. With the growing demand for nuclear energy and the possible construction of two new nuclear power plants, there is also greater demand for specialists who have the necessary knowledge and skills and can respond to developments relating to nuclear energy, new nuclear power plants and the management of radioactive waste and radiation protection.
Local residents and participation
The government believes that local residents and other stakeholders should be as closely involved as possible in the preparations for the two new nuclear power plants, as these will have a big impact locally, especially given the number of other energy projects in the region. This applies not only to the period when the power plants are actually operational, but also to the construction process.
Various consultation procedures are under way, during which anyone can submit their views. The exact dates will be announced on this website. The environmental impact assessments will be conducted in line with the Espoo Convention.