Feasibility of Nuclear Energy in the Energy Mix of the Netherlands. Identifying the economic potential of nuclear energy in a system where wind, solar and green hydrogen dominate.
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This research has contributed to the goal of decarbonizing the energy sector. Through the process of decarbonization, all types of electricity generation technologies are re-evaluated. The energy produced must be reliable, affordable, and sustainable. Nuclear energy is proven to be reliable and sustainable, but its affordability is questioned. This research tried to answer this by studying the potential role nuclear energy could play in an energy mix where and when solar, wind and, green hydrogen dominate. It has done so by extending the model created by Kramer & Koning - which was used to identify the optimal combination of hydrogen and VREs in an energy system – with a nuclear energy component. It was concluded that with the introduction of nuclear energy in the system, the potential production of hydrogen as an ESS was higher compared to a system without nuclear energy. The height of the OCC of an NPP was retrieved through a literature review to find the optimal combinations of hydrogen and nuclear energy capacity. While there was no consensus in the literature, a bandwidth of the most probable OCC was constructed. Three cost ratios of nuclear energy over electrolysers were created to perform a cost-optimization and find the most cost-effective way of decarbonizing the energy sector. The cost optima combinations of nuclear energy and electrolysers were not significantly different for the three scenarios and showed a potential role for nuclear energy. By introducing nuclear energy into the mix, the total system costs could be reduced compared to a scenario without nuclear energy, depending on the cost ratio. With the expected cost reductions in electrolysers, there is a need for cost reduction in the OCC of an NPP to retain the potential role nuclear energy has. Lastly, if the role of nuclear energy will be to produce hydrogen, the same capacity of electrolysers should be installed to limit the cost of production. Hence, this research has concluded that there is a role that nuclear energy could play in an energy mix when and where solar, wind, and green hydrogen dominate. It can do so by being a baseload supplier of electricity and, to a limited extent, as a purple hydrogen producer. However, it must reduce its OCC to be cost-competitive in the future to maintain this potential role. Further research into other components than system costs is recommended to fully identify nuclear energy's potential role.