Thursday 09 April 2020

Don’t close down nuclear power stations just yet: KNMI chief

Photo: A Nagel via Wikimedia Commons

Nuclear power should not be excluded as a way to meet climate goals, the director of the Dutch meteorological institute KNMI has told the Financieele Dagblad in an interview, to be published on Saturday.

The cabinet’s climate plans do not include nuclear energy although economic affairs and climate minister Eric Wiebes is currently investigating what its role may be, the paper said.

Gerard van der Steenhoven said that if it were up to him he would keep nuclear power stations open for longer. The Netherlands’ only nuclear power plant, Borssele, is scheduled to close in 2033.

‘Considering the major problems we are faced with, I would continue with the nuclear power stations in Europe, and that includes Borssele in the Netherlands. Nuclear power forms an important part of the energy supply,’ he told the FD.

The debate about the use of nuclear energy comes in the wake of the news that the Netherlands trails the rest of Europe in terms of renewable energy,  putting in doubt the country’s ability to meet long-term climate goals without recourse to nuclear power.

However, the European Green Deal, which aims for an energy neutral Europe by 2040 and which was brokered by Euro commissioner Frans Timmermans, excludes nuclear power because of the high costs associated with it.

Support

In addition, public support for nuclear power is problematic, Van der Steenhoven said.

In 2018, Klaas Dijkhoff, who leads the ruling VVD in parliament, said the Netherlands will not be able to meet its clean air targets without reintroducing nuclear power.

Nuclear energy offers the best way of meeting the targets set down in the Paris agreement, Dijkhoff said, adding that it is relatively clean and does not produce CO2.

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