The debate about the energy agenda in the Provincial Council (PS) and the attempt by the Socialist Party to gain more control over energy in Drenthe was almost completely drowned out by a discussion about whether or not to have nuclear energy. Surprising outcome: research will be conducted into whether a ‘small’ nuclear power plant is possible in Drenthe.
Where in the past the Provincial Executive (GS) and PS in Drenthe did not or hardly mention the word nuclear energy, Drenthe is piggybacking on government research into a new type of nuclear power plant: a small modular reactor (SMR). Ten million euros are available for this and Drenthe wants a share of that.
In short, the vision of energy representative Henk Jumelet and the GS council is: if Drenthe wants to get rid of fossil fuels and achieve climate goals such as much less C02 emissions, then “perhaps all other forms of clean energy are necessary. So there will be a investigate whether a small nuclear power plant is possible.
Jumelet thus responded to JA21, BBB, PVV, VVD, Volt, CDA and Forum for Democracy who are in favor of nuclear energy. JA21 Member of Parliament Harry Omlo even had a motion for research into a small nuclear power plant in his back pocket, but due to Jumelet’s commitment, that motion is now redundant.
The PvdA is the only collegial party that remains staunchly against nuclear energy. Member of Parliament Fenneke Mensen-Maat does not want to saddle future generations with radioactive waste. JA21 committee member Dick van den Brand: “Small power stations have a completely different waste system than current nuclear power stations. You no longer talk about thousands of years of radioactivity and you have less waste. Covra in Zeeland can store that very well.” But Mensen-Maat insists: “there is still waste and it is still radioactive.” This earned her a sneer from VVD coalition partner Cees Vianen: “What should we do with CO2 reduction, also in light of the small amount of nuclear waste we then receive?”
SP faction leader Dikker does not trust that above-ground storage at the Covra will be sufficient: “The government will then also look at the storage of nuclear waste in the underground salt domes near Gasselte,” she warns. GroenLinks, Party for the Animals, D66 and the Pormes faction also do not want nuclear energy.
A large conventional power plant such as in Borssele or Lingen in Germany is not possible in Drenthe, as there is not enough cooling water for that. Such a power station must be located on a sea, large river or lake. But according to Harry Omlo of JA21 and PVV member Bert Vorenkamp, a small conventional power plant that requires less cooling water would work well on the water in Meppel. And then there are “other new types” of small power stations that are cooled with liquid salt. According to Vorenkamp, the technology is already there. And the costs are much lower than with hydrogen or other green energy forms, as he knows after a visit to Borssele.
VVD, JA21 and the PvdA also want to invest heavily in hydrogen. According to PvdA member Mensen-Maat, we must do as much as possible with the ‘Hydrogen Backbone’ that will be located from the north to other parts of the country. “You are going to fill the whole of Drenthe with wind turbines and solar panels to generate electricity for hydrogen?” asks PVV member Bert Vorenkamp. Human Size: “No, and there is still plenty of room for sun on the roof.”
Vorenkamp came up with a lesson in hydrogen for PS and GS. “Hydrogen is not an energy source but an energy carrier. Very expensive and inefficient to produce, you need a lot of power. You need to put in ten times as much energy to make it than you can get out of it. The technology still needs to be developed and you have to build all the infrastructure.”
But Jumelet cannot be relented. “Hydrogen is needed in the energy mix, gray, blue and green hydrogen. We are leading the way in the north. It will not be there tomorrow, but it will be in a number of years, especially for large consumers.” So connecting to that backbone is the credo.
GS supports local energy generators, energy cooperatives and their own use of the energy generated in Drenthe. But having our own provincial energy company as the SP would like is a bridge too far. The money and knowledge are not there, GS concludes in an exploration. But GS is interested in research into more financial support from the Drenthe Energy Fund for own generation and research into self-supply for Drenthe governments.
Even without its own energy company, the province can do more, says SP faction leader Greetje Dikkers. The SP mainly wants Drenthe to regain more control over energy. Dikkers: “Gas and electricity have become unaffordable for many people. The heating is turned on at 15 and the winter coat is turned on inside.” The blame lies with market forces in the energy sector where large commercial companies are in charge. “We must prevent energy poverty and gain more control and not be solely at the mercy of the market.”
Unfortunately for Dikkers, her appeal was drowned out by the discussion about whether or not to have nuclear energy.