Dutch explore nuclear 'taboo' as part of energy transition

by Reuters
Wednesday, 15 December 2021 14:33 GMT

(Adds quotes by D66 leader Kaag, more detail)

By Bart H. Meijer

AMSTERDAM, Dec 15 (Reuters) - The Netherlands may build two nuclear reactors, its government-in-waiting said on Wednesday, signalling a possible radical shift in energy policy as it seeks to keep a transition to a carbon-neutral economy on track.

The country aims to spend an extra 35 billion euros ($40 billion) on its energy transformation in the coming 10 years, including investments in hydrogen, heat and electricity networks, the prospective four-party coalition said in a presentation.

"We're taking concrete steps for 60% carbon dioxide reduction in 2030" said Sigrid Kaag, leader of D66, the coalition's second largest party.

"We're going toward climate neutrality in 2050. We're doing that ...with green taxes, with enormous investments in renewable energy, and by getting rid of taboos not only on taxes on driving but also on nuclear energy."

The latter will involve preparatory steps towards building two new nuclear reactors, and keeping the country's only existing nuclear plant operational for longer than planned, according to the pact.

Previously, the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the conservative VVD of long-time prime minister Mark Rutte supported the expansion of nuclear energy.

But they were unable to put such a policy into effect because of oppostion from all other mainsteam parties on safety and pollution concerns.

The coalition is formed by the parties in power since 2017, which are looking to form Rutte's fourth consecutive administration after a record nine months without a government following an inconclusive national election in March.

Their pact also includes plans to build up to 100,000 houses per year, and increase childcare subsidies, spending on education and the minimum wage.

The programme is expected to nudge government debt up to around 60% of gross domestic product by 2025, first calculations showed, with a deficit of 2.5% that year. (Reporting by Bart Meijer, Toby Sterling and Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Alexandra Hudson and John Stonestreet)

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