Climate change demands action: CO2 emissions need to be reduced. We are therefore abandoning coal, oil and gas and switching to new low carbon technologies. Nuclear energy is an excellent example of this. Together with other sustainable sources, nuclear energy delivers climate neutral energy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Nuclear power plants have existed for over 60 years. During this time, we have learned a great deal about working in a nuclear power plant and what we need to be aware of. As a result of all this knowledge and experience, nuclear power plants have become smarter and safer. 25% of all electricity in the EU is now generated by nuclear energy. To ensure that nuclear energy can contribute to climate neutral energy in the coming years, it is important that we continue research in the future. There are always new things to learn. Computer models are vital to that research. With increasingly powerful computers, we are better able to simulate what goes on in and around the reactor. The results show what can still be improved and what innovations can really help improve safety.
Geert-Jan de Haas
Programme manager Nuclear Research
Just like in a game, you want computer models to be as real as possible. Just like in a game, you must use real data when programming. For nuclear energy, for example, you can use measurements from the nuclear power plant. How strong the concrete is or the bolts that keep the vessel with the uranium, the nuclear fuel, in place. However, you may want to know the situation in 10 or 20 years. You then need a research reactor, a kind of nuclear power plant that is specially designed for research. There are two of these in the Netherlands: a small one in Delft and a big one in Petten. In a research reactor, you can also test new materials or nuclear fuels. For example, new forms of uranium which are better able to retain the radioactive substances that are formed. This makes nuclear energy considerably safer.
Research is time consuming and costly. Take irradiation in the reactor, for example. With all the preparations, measurements and post-irradiation examinations, it can take several years and easily cost a million euros. Because nuclear energy is so important for our electricity, some of the research is paid for by the European Union. International cooperation is therefore extremely important. Each party involved does what they are good at. The Netherlands is one of the few countries with a large research reactor. Through smart cooperation, good results can soon be achieved. Most countries are members of international organisations like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Here research results and ideas can be exchanged. If there is agreement, the IAEA publishes advice about a certain subject.
Would you like to know more about safe climate neutral energy? Then you are at the right place at NRG. Our experts are ready to answer all your questions.