EPZ calls for continued nuclear power in the Netherlands

9 December 2020

Borssele nuclear power plant Carlo Wolters, director of Netherlands power company EPZ, has called for an extension to the operation of the Borssele NPP beyond 2033. Alternatively EPZ seeks the construction of two new large reactors at the site to enable the Netherlands to meet its energy and climate goals.

Wolters made the statement at a parliamentary debate on the role of nuclear power in the Dutch energy system, where he presented a position paper, “EPZ Vision 2033 – A Strategy for Dutch Nuclear Energy”, which was first published on 28 November.

“EPZ is currently the only Dutch party with the experience to operate a nuclear power plant in combination with a wind and solar park,” the document says.

EPZ sees nuclear as a key climate-neutral source of energy, which should continue to be used in the Netherlands. For this there are two options – plant life extension and/or newbuild.

As to life extension, EPZ said a letter from EPZ about this has already been sent to Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Eric Wiebes and the House of Representatives. “The condition set by EPZ is that any market risk is covered in the business case,” the Vision paper says. It envisages extending operation of the Borssele NPP by 10 to 20 years.

On the newbuild option, EPZ favours building two new Generation III 1500MWe units before the mid-1930s at the Borssele site. “A precondition is the choice of a proven (and licensed) reactor design for which the permit and consultation processes can be completed on time,” the paper notes. “Subsequently, during construction, no changes to design and regulations will be made. Finally it is necessary that any market risk in the business case is covered by the government.”

EPZ says construction of an existing, approved reactor concept is feasible. Generation III reactors have three times the power of Borssele and “are therefore very interesting economically”. They “can now be purchased from various suppliers” and there is sufficient space for new construction in the immediate vicinity of the existing nuclear plant, EPZ adds. 

“The addition of two identical nuclear power stations (with phased completion) seems the most optimal strategy,” the paper notes. “With an adequate project progression”, the costs of a new Generation III reactor are €8-10 billion and the construction time is about eight years. With a combination of these two options, climate-neutral capacity could be in use by the mid-2030s. “Borssele could even be 3500MWe, with an availability of 90%. This covers approximately 25% of current Dutch electricity demand.” The paper adds: “A fully climate-neutral energy system by 2050 remains within reach, even if electricity consumption continues to increase.”

EPZ notes that around 2030, CO2 emissions from the electricity sector will be between 11 and 25 megatonnes. “If EPZ keeps the existing nuclear power plant open and builds two new ones, the savings will be 13 megatonnes.”

In September Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Eric Wiebes said in a letter to members of parliament that more nuclear power may join solar and wind in the Dutch energy mix after 2030, in particular small modular reactors (SMRs). The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a recent energy policy review that lifetime extension "could prove of great benefit to maintain the low-carbon generation...and the know-how of the Dutch nuclear sector".

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