the possibilities of nuclear energy have barely been explored. e-Lise has developed the Nuclear 2.0 philosophy. This philosophy is characterized by the recycling of nuclear fuel and the application of nuclear energy for various purposes: electricity, hydrogen, heat, clean water, and synthetic fuels.
The transition to a CO2-free society will increase the use of electricity. Think of more electric cars, more electrical appliances, heat pumps, but also making industrial processes electric that are now powered by oil or gas. Our society is increasingly digitizing, and that also requires a lot of electricity. Nuclear power plants are able to produce power regardless of the weather conditions for a very competitive price.
Hydrogen & Synthetic Fuels
In order to replace a large part of the raw fossil requirements, the Netherlands is planning to build a hydrogen economy. Both the electricity and the heat produced by (certain) nuclear power plants can be used to split large volumes of water into hydrogen and oxygen. Certain forms of transport and industry may not be able to use hydrogen. SMRs can be used to make these processes low in CO2, for example by making synthetic fuels.
District and Process heat
We can heat entire cities with the help of nuclear energy; High temperature reactors can also be used in the heavy chemical and steel industry in the Netherlands to reduce gas consumption and thus the CO2 emissions from these processes.
The production and use of fresh water has been under pressure in the Netherlands for years. This is reflected in the falling groundwater levels. The pressure is felt particularly in the agricultural sector. With nuclear energy, desalination becomes an attractive option. This offers many additional opportunities to save our (ground) water supplies and to make our water management more sustainable.
Small Modular Reactors
e-Lise wants to permanently change the energy landscape by laying a foundation for the roll-out of the most modern and efficient nuclear reactors. It is our ambition to make the start of the construction of new nuclear power plants possible before 2030. We are looking at large conventional reactors such as the French EPR or the South Korean APR 1400. In addition, we see in Small Modular Reactors (also called SMRs) an interesting technology that can be applied in the Netherlands to quickly put an end to CO2 emissions and particulate matter emissions from coal and biomass combustion.
SMRs are not a must, in SMRs we see a valuable addition to the existing nuclear energy portfolio. Here's why we find SMRs interesting:
SMRs are small and therefore very efficient in material use; some designs use up to 50% less concrete, steel and other materials per kilowatt of capacity than larger reactors; this is partly because they have fewer components and can be passively cooled. They can also be built faster because of this.
Energy density means limited space
A 300 MW SMR delivers more than two billion kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity annually, which is equivalent to the annual consumption of more than half a million 4-person households. And that on a surface that is smaller than a football field.
Economies of scale
Conventional reactors create economies of scale due to their size; but the implementation of SMRs involves components that can be produced faster and in series. In addition to expected cost decreases, this means shorter lead times and therefore lower financing costs. This removes a major obstacle for energy companies to invest in nuclear energy.
Lots of options
The industry has fully embraced the development of SMRs, currently more than 70 new designs are known to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Engineering bureau Tractebel published a market survey at the end of 2020 that charts the current situation.
Lower entry costs
Because the reactor and the building are smaller, the construction costs of an SMR are also drastically lower. A 300 MW (megawatt) reactor costs less than one billion euros.
To Thorium or not to Thorium
We intend to have companies in the Netherlands start building reactors that use uranium as fuel. In the Netherlands, this fuel is enriched at Urenco in Almelo. Thorium and other fuels can be used as soon as suitable reactors become available. This can take several more years. Until then, e-Lise would like to make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in the Netherlands by stimulating the construction of nuclear power plants that can use fuel now available to us. Not only does this stimulate the further development of nuclear energy, the depleted uranium resulting from the application of the uranium cycle and a large part of the residual product san also be used as fuel in future thorium or fast reactors. This also makes the nuclear industry circular.