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Groningen research: nuclear energy more efficient for achieving climate goals

It is financially more advantageous if the Netherlands invests in nuclear power stations than in solar and wind energy alone. This is the conclusion of three researchers at the University of Groningen.

The more solar and wind energy that is generated, the lower the electricity price. For example, the electricity price is already much lower when there is a lot of wind and sun. That effect will only increase in the future if there are even more solar panels and wind turbines, the researchers reason. At the expense of the earning model of the investors.

Nuclear power plants are less affected by this. In fact, if solar and wind farms are able to generate less due to weather conditions, the electricity price will actually rise. And the nuclear power plants benefit from this.

Fewer subsidies

The researchers also point out that nuclear power plants require less subsidy per unit of power than renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. Offshore wind farms need the most subsidies to cover the costs, they say.

“We often say: offshore wind is free, but that is because a lot of costs at sea are paid by the government,” says Machiel Mulder. He is professor of energy economics at the University of Groningen and conducted research into nuclear power plants.

With the research, Mulder hopes to contribute to the social debate about allowing nuclear energy to play a possible role in energy systems with low CO2 emissions.

That debate is very topical at the moment. With increased gas prices, climate change and the desire to be less dependent on Russian gas, nuclear energy is seriously back on the table. The European Commission decided earlier to label nuclear energy – under certain conditions – as green.

Sensitive topic

It is also known that the cabinet wants to look at the construction of nuclear power stations, and this was immediately criticized. Environmental organizations point to the safety and nuclear waste that remains radioactive for thousands of years. The Groningen study took into account, among other things, the costs of waste processing and safety.

According to Professor Mulder, it will take some time before nuclear power plants are definitively chosen. “Most of the time is spent in the discussions: nuclear energy is a sensitive subject and there is resistance, because parties are clearly for or against nuclear energy. But once a nuclear power plant has been built, it will last a long time.”

After the discussion has been held and the permits have been granted, it will take another seven years to build a nuclear power plant, according to the researchers. According to the researchers, this means that a nuclear power plant can contribute to climate objectives in the longer term.

Mulder: “Reducing CO2 emissions with solar and wind energy alone is not enough. Nuclear energy is therefore also necessary. And that is even cheaper, which also makes a difference in the wallet of the citizen. Because subsidies are paid by the citizen.”

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