The Netherlands is to launch a consultation on whether to build up to 10 nuclear power plants after a study commissioned by the Ministry of Economics found that nuclear energy would be as cheap as wind or solar power.
The report by nuclear consultancy Enco backs the addition of nuclear capacity. At present the country has one 485MW power plant at Borssele near the border with Belgium (pictured).
As well as building plants, the government wants to relax nuclear regulations and make state funding available to subsidise projects.
Backers believe construction of the first plant could be under way by 2025.
Erik Wiebes, the economics minister, said in a letter to the lower house of parliament that the government would work on a motion to gauge public support and identify plant locations.
"The researchers argue that nuclear energy is no more expensive than wind and solar if the system costs are included in the same way. They argue that the system costs of solar and wind are insufficiently weighted in the costs of those technologies," Wiebes said in the letter.
The initiative is also seen as an appeal to voters by the governing People’s Party for Freedom (VVD) ahead of next year’s general election.
Mark Harbers, a VVD MP, told the Dutch news site AD: "We will not be able to achieve the climate goals by 2050 with only solar and wind energy. I don’t want a messy landscape, filled with windmills and solar meadows. And I don’t want to become dependent on gas from Russia. You have to take steps now to be able to open a nuclear power plant after 2030. Nuclear energy is simply desperately needed."
Harbers said that between three and 10 reactors are needed. "It would be nice if the first shovel would go into the ground around 2025, so that the first power plant could be opened in the 2030s," he said.
The Recharge eco-news website notes that the Netherlands has one of the world’s most ambitious offshore wind programmes, and plans to build 12GW in offshore wind by 2030. The government is also considering offshore wind farms set up to produce green hydrogen, which would be transported to land by pipeline.
At present, the Netherlands is heavily reliant on high carbon electricity, and provides up to €8bn in state subsidies each year to the fossil fuel sector.
Image: The small Borssele nuclear power station (Taco Witte/CC BY-SA 3.0)