Dutch government will keep existing nuclear plant operating AND build two more full-sized water-cooled plants
Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius (left) State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate and Mark Rutte (right) prime minister)
Four years ago, the conventional wisdom in Europe was that the continent was transitioning to renewable energies. The cost of electricity from solar panels, wind turbines, and natural gas had declined significantly, and lithium batteries could soon replace natural gas to provide energy when the sun wasn’t shining and the wind wasn’t blowing. And, held the consensus view, nuclear energy was going away; the main question was how soon existing nuclear plants could be dismantled.
Today, the conventional wisdom has changed radically. Energy and electricity prices are at record levels due to Europe’s over-reliance on renewables, inadequate supplies of nuclear energy, and shortages of oil and gas due to under-investment in oil and gas exploration and production. Carbon emissions in Germany rose 25% in the first half of 2020 due in large part to a 25% decline in wind, underscoring the unreliable nature of weather-dependent renewables. In response, both France and Britain have promised a major expansion of nuclear energy.
Not everything has changed. Both Germany and Belgium are moving full speed ahead with plans to shut down their nuclear power plants, and both nations, along with Austria and Switzerland, are lobbying to exclude nuclear energy from the list of energy technologies the European Union will categorize as sustainable. At the same time, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said recently that she believes the EU will nonetheless count nuclear as sustainable in its taxonomy, resistance is growing in both Germany and Belgium to closing nuclear plants, and a new YouGov poll finds that over half of Germans say nuclear should remain part of their nation’s climate policy.Subscribe
The strongest evidence yet that the conventional wisdom has changed came yesterday from the Netherlands. Its government announced that it will not only keep its existing nuclear power plant operating but also build two additional ones. To signal its seriousness, the government has allocated €5 billion for new plant construction. “We did a market consultation recently,” the Netherlands’ State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate, Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, told me yesterday, “and parties are definitely interested.”