Borssele earmarked for two new reactors

12 December 2022

The Dutch Council of Ministers has designated the existing Borssele nuclear power plant site as the preferred location for two new reactors. It has also called for a feasibility study into extending the operation of the existing Borssele plant beyond 2033.

The existing Borssele nuclear power plant (Image: EPZ)

In December 2021, the Netherlands' new coalition government placed nuclear power at the heart of its climate and energy policy. Some EUR500 million (USD529 million) was earmarked to support new nuclear build in the period to 2025. It anticipated that cumulative support for new nuclear would reach EUR5 billion by 2030, while not assuming any new power plants would be online by that time.

The cabinet announced on 9 December that it currently sees Borssele as the most suitable location for the construction of two new reactors.

"There is sufficient space here for the construction of new reactors and a great deal of relevant knowledge and (nuclear) infrastructure, such as the storage of nuclear waste," it noted. "Building two reactors at one location is also more cost efficient. The government sees local support as an important condition in the choice of location and is therefore developing a participation plan to involve residents, organisations and businesses."

The government said preparations are aimed at the construction of two Generation III+ reactors. "This is the most modern type of reactor with improvements in safety, operating time, fuel technology and efficiency," it said. "The first Generation III+ reactors have now been commissioned in other countries. As a result, there is extensive international practical experience with the planning and financing of this technology. This makes the use of Generation III+ reactors the fastest route to a contribution from nuclear energy to a stable, CO2-neutral and diverse energy system."

Based on preliminary plans, these will be completed around 2035 and each will have a capacity of 1000-1650 MWe. The two reactors would provide 9-13% of the Netherlands' electricity production in 2035.

"The construction of new nuclear power plants requires comprehensive decision-making and careful consideration," the cabinet said. "During this term of office, the government aims to take a final decision on the location, technology, financing, the role of the government and the tender process. Various studies will be carried out for this, including into environmental effects for specific locations and possible financing models. Rotterdam is included as an alternative location in these procedures."

The government said it does not expect to be able to make a final choice of location until the end of 2024 at the earliest.

Extended operation of Borssele

The cabinet has also instructed the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS) to examine whether the operation of the existing 482 MWe (net) pressurised water reactor at Borssele beyond 2033 "is technically feasible and safe".

In order to enable such an extension, the country's Nuclear Energy Act and the existing agreements with the shareholders of the Borssele plant must be amended. The government noted that technical studies are being carried out "that will show how long and under what conditions the plant can remain open longer in a safe and responsible manner".

"Nuclear energy can make an important contribution to a reliable and CO2-free energy supply. Local support and preconditions for the arrival of new nuclear power plants are crucial in the choices we make," said Energy Minister Rob Jetten. "I therefore think it is important to continue to involve the environment of the possible locations in all future steps."

EPZ - operator of the Borssele plant - said it is "pleased with the energetic steps the cabinet is taking to enable the construction of two new nuclear power stations in Borssele".

The company added: "EPZ is confident about the conversation that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate wants to start with the shareholders to make agreements about extending the operating life of the existing nuclear power plant. EPZ also endorses the government's vision that the extended operational management with the current nuclear power plant is a bridge to the commissioning of two new nuclear power plants in Borssele."

In 2020, EPZ called for an extension to its operation beyond 2033 and/or the construction of two new large reactors at the site in order to help the Netherlands meet its energy and climate goals.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News