Netherlands approves two new reactors as old Borssele plant eyes retirement

The Borssele nuclear plant had been due close in 2033 (Taco Witte/CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Netherlands’ Council of Ministers has approved plans for two new reactors, with the country’s only existing plant at Borssele in Zeeland as the preferred location, VRT News reports.

The government believes construction can be completed as early as 2035.

Two new reactors would take nuclear’s share of power provision to 13% from 3% now.

A final decision on the location is pending. Rob Jetten, the climate and energy minister, said Maasvlakte, by Rotterdam’s Europort, was seen as a “reasonable alternative” on the basis of environmental requirements, but that it had other disadvantages.

Also pending is the type of reactors, although they would be “gen III+” designs that have already been built elsewhere, to minimise construction risk.

Jetten said Chinese and Russian suppliers would not be chosen, despite having the most experience in nuclear engineering. This meant that the work would probably go to a French, Korean or US company.

He added that the cabinet was hopeful that small modular reactors, which are likely to be quicker and cheaper to build than conventional units, may play a part in the Netherlands’ future energy mix, but not until they had proved themselves in other countries.

The government indicated that it would take an “accelerated approach” to the projects, cutting the construction period to between six and eight years. Finance for the work, provisionally put at €5bn, would come wholly or in part from Dutch government funds.

In 2020, the Dutch government said it would launch a consultation on building as many as 10 reactors (see further reading). It is not clear whether the latest announcement is a scaling back of those ambitions or a first step in realising them. 

Borssele was built in the 1970s, and was due to be decommissioned in 2033, however the government is presently pushing to extend its life.  

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