Many countries around the world are considering how nuclear energy could play a role in reducing CO2 emissions and enhancing energy security. In the Netherlands, decision makers have been searching for ways to diversify and decarbonise their energy supply since the adoption of the 2019 national Climate Agreement, which has led to a transition in their nuclear energy policies.
A Nuclear Energy Agency delegation led by Director-General William D. Magwood, IV visited the Netherlands to meet with government and industry representatives on the future of the Dutch nuclear industry. The discussions covered topics including advancements in nuclear technology, development of skills and industrial infrastructure and the preparations required by regulators for a transition in nuclear energy policies.
During the mission, Director-General Magwood met with Minister for Climate and Energy Policy Rob Jetten to discuss the development and impact of small modular reactors (SMRs), with a special overview of the NEA SMR Dashboard, a new report that helps assess the progress of various SMR technologies. They also delved into the financing of, and government support for, nuclear new build.
Director-General Magwood and NEA Nuclear Strategic Policy Advisor Michel Berthélemy visited the TU Delft Reactor Institute (RID), which has been the Dutch knowledge centre for radiation-related research and education for over 50 years.
During the visit, they met with Theun Baller, Director of RID at the Technical University of Delft, to discuss the ongoing joint TCOFF projects and the NEA’s work in nuclear education, skills and technology capacity building within the NEST Framework. Director-General Magwood was invited to deliver a lecture to a group of PhD students at the institute on the opportunities and challenges of the nuclear sector’s resurgence.
NEA Director-General Magwood delivers a lecture to PhD students during his visit to the TU Delft Reactor Institute at the Technical University of Delft on the challenges and opportunities of nuclear energy in the 21st century.
Nuclear safety and regulation, a key area of research for the NEA, was the focus of a meeting between Director-General Magwood and the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS) Chair, Annemiek Van Bolhuis, and Vice-Chair, Marco Brugmans. As part of the exchange, they reviewed the benefits ANVS has gained from participating in NEA training programs and discussed the nuclear regulatory preparations required for planned developments in the Dutch nuclear sector.
“The nuclear energy sector in the Netherlands is in transition and ANVS has a central role in ensuring that high standards of nuclear safety are maintained in the Dutch nuclear sector as these developments unfold,” said Director-General Magwood.
“We had a productive discussion about the new wave of nuclear technology developments that have the potential to reinvent the sector - and how regulators can be best prepare for their introduction. We also discussed the importance of having a well-trained and diverse workforce in the nuclear safety regulatory body and within the overall nuclear sector,” the NEA Director-General added.
NEA Director-General Magwood tours the TU Delft Reactor Institute (RI) with a delegation from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.
Director-General Magwood was welcomed by the CEO of research and production organisation NRG | PALLAS, Bertholt Leeftink, to their Petten headquarters to discuss developments in the new medical isotopes reactor PALLAS and the NEA’s initiatives on SMRs and medical radioisotopes. As part of the visit, they toured the PALLAS Energy and Health Campus.
Mr Leeftink highlighted how the NEA is helping organisations such as theirs to contribute to the Netherlands’ energy transition: “The NEA plays a key role in establishing sustainable networks and joint research programmes that facilitate the energy transition with low-CO2 nuclear power. With our nuclear research programme, using the High Flux Reactor and the PALLAS reactor in the future, we will contribute to the optimised performance of current reactors and the development of new innovative reactor concepts, such as SMRs."
The NEA delegation meets with NRG | PALLAS CEO, Bertholt Leeftink at their Petten headquarters to discuss developments in the new medical isotopes reactor PALLAS and the NEA’s initiatives on SMR and medical radioisotopes.
Stakeholder engagement and communication is an important area for the NEA, which Director-General Magwood had the opportunity to highlight during a meeting with Minister for the Environment Vivianne Heijnen. They discussed how the NEA’s work could inform the Netherlands’ communication and participation plans with stakeholders, as well as the responsibilities for nuclear safety regulatory affairs and policy actions around nuclear new build plans.
The Netherlands has targets to reduce its carbon emissions by 49% by 2030 and by 95% by 2050. There is one nuclear reactor generating approximately 3% of the country’s electricity, and an earlier decision reversed an initial plan to phase out nuclear power plants. The Netherlands has plans to build two new power plants by 2035 that could supply up to 13% of the country’s electricity. The NEA looks forward to further supporting the Netherlands as it explores the role that nuclear energy could play in providing energy security while helping to mitigate climate change.
Visit the webpage on Nuclear energy and climate change for more on the NEA's work to support member countries in the energy transition.