Nuclear Energy

Expected spring of 2022
Nuclear energy is taking centre stage as one of the options within the energy transition. However, conducting a proper debate about the usefulness and necessity of nuclear energy proves difficult in practice. The Council has been asked for an advisory report.
Nuclear power station and wind turbines for renewable energy on the Westerschelde estuary, province of Zeeland / photo: ANP

Background and question to be addressed

The reason for an advisory report on nuclear energy is the attention given in the media and politics to nuclear energy as an option in the energy transition. Nuclear energy is taking centre stage, internationally, nationally and regionally. Several things stand out:

  • The debate is polarised. Positions 'for' or 'against' nuclear energy are quickly taken and there seems to be little engagement.
  • Experts point out that nuclear energy is part of a larger puzzle: the transition to a zero-carbon energy and resource system. This appears to be a puzzle that can be solved in many different ways, but nobody knows what the final picture will be.
  • There are few overview reports on the role of nuclear energy in the energy transition. However, there are many technical reports on sub-topics.

The Council is working on an advisory report in which the following questions are central:

What elements contribute to forming opinions on the role of nuclear energy in a zero-carbon energy system, how can these elements be weighed and what does this mean for government decision-making on nuclear energy?

These questions can be divided into a number of subquestions:

  • What elements are important for decision-making on nuclear energy in the context of the transition to a zero-carbon electricity system? 
  • What is the knowledge regarding these elements about which there is agreement, disagreement or uncertainty in science and society, and what are the underlying premises and lines of reasoning?
  • What emotions do the elements evoke, and what underlying value judgements and convictions do they suggest? 
  • How are these elements connected and how are they related to particular stakeholders and involved parties?
  • What importance do experts and society attach to the various elements?
  • What does all this mean for government decision-making on nuclear energy?

The Council wishes to use its advisory report to help politicians and society to carefully consider the usefulness and necessity of nuclear energy. The report will reveal which elements play a role in decision-making and what is known, unknown or disputed about them. Where possible, the Council will also make its own substantive judgements and recommendations for guidance. To all appearances, the main choice to be made has strong normative elements and is therefore pre-eminently a responsibility of government and parliament.

Planning

This advisory report is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022.

Committee members

  • Emmy Meijers, Council member and committee chair
  • Erik Verhoef, Council member

External committee members

  • Behnam Taebi, Professor of Energy and Climate Ethics, as well as Scientific Director of the Safety & Security Institute, TU Delft
  • Sabine Roeser, Professor of Ethics, TU Delft
  • André Faaij, Director of Science TNO Energy Transition and (part time) Distinguished Professor Energy System Analysis at Utrecht University and the University of Groningen (RUG)
Information or response: 

For more information about the advisory report, please contact Bas Waterhout, project manager: bas.waterhout@rli.nl or +31 (0)6 21178802.