According to the statement, the units should be deployed by 2035, have each a capacity between 1,000 MW and 1,650 MW, and use a Generation III+ reactor technology.
The Netherlands has one commercial reactor unit in operation at Borssele, in the southwest province of Zeeland, near the Belgian border. It is a 482-MW Siemens-built pressurised water reactor unit which came online in 1973.
The government said it would also begin a legislative process to allow the operating lifetime extension of the existing Borssele unit beyond 2033, a final date set by the local Nuclear Energy Act currently in force. Actual steps in the licence extension process will need to be taken by plant operator EPZ subject to approval by the local nuclear regulatory authority ANVS.
According to the government, Borssele has “sufficient space” for new build and houses existing infrastructure, including a radioactive waste repository run by Covra.
The government said that it aims to take a final decision on the location, technology, financing, the role of the state, and a tendering process by the end of its term in office.
A coalition government agreement from 2021 stipulates that the Netherlands would seek to build two nuclear reactors after 2030 and extend the life of its only existing commercial reactor, the 482-MW Borssele plant. The next general elections in the Netherlands are set for March 2025, unless a snap election is called earlier because of unforeseen political reasons.
The government said 2024 is the earlier time by which final decisions about the nuclear new-build project could realistically be made. The statement also said Rotterdam is a possible alternative location for nuclear new-build to be considered in the process.
The Netherlands plans to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. A recent study found that a nuclear generating capacity of about 9,000 MW would be ‘optimal’ towards these ambitious goals, including large-scale nuclear and possibly small modular reactors.
The study warned that the costs of nuclear power plants under construction in Europe are “much higher than expected”, but said potential problems could be mitigated if the government became closely involved in the development and financing of nuclear energy projects.
The governing coalition agreement from 2021 saw €5bn earmarked by 2030 for supporting the nuclear new-build plans, with an initial cap of €50m in 2023, followed by €200m in 2024 and €250m in 2025. No preliminary figures have at this stage been estimated about the cost of the actual deployment of two new nuclear plants in the Netherlands.