A group of pro-nuclear Dutch citizens have set up the country’s first nuclear energy co-op. Officially due to launch on 31 October, the Atomic Cooperative has 170 members.
“We have all been active the past years as pro-nuclear citizens in different ways and met each other at different events about nuclear energy,” said co-founder Patrick Bauduin. “One of the founders also has a 100% nuclear energy retail company in the Netherlands, another is active for NGO Replanet and one of us volunteers for pro-nuclear NGO E-Lise foundation.”
He says the co-op model was chosen because it was perceived as a way to “actively help build more nuclear capacity in the Netherlands and play a role in this”. Joining the De Atom Cooperative costs €23.5 per year.
“Politics has been talking about this for a long time,” added Baudin, “but discussions about local support are taking too long. We looked at how solar and wind projects arranged this local support successfully and decided that we also wanted to use this model for nuclear energy to show support and to give citizens and businesses the chance to invest in an SMR and share in the benefits.”
Over the next 12 months, the co-op will focus on growing a large community of supporters, aiming for thousands of members, both individuals and businesses.
“Next to that, we are talking to governments both national as well as local about involvement in new plans for small modular reactors (SMRs),” said Baudin. “Reactions so far are very positive, because local support is extremely important for the realisation of these projects.”
Around 4% of the electricity used in the Netherlands comes from a nuclear power plant. The state falls behind some other European members when it comes to renewable generation, having failed to meet the 14% renewable share of total energy consumption in 2020.
The country’s coalition government has expressed interest in nuclear energy, as a means for the Netherlands to become climate-neutral by 2050.
“There are concrete plans to build at least two new conventional reactors,” said Baudin. “Next to that, various local governments are also showing interest in getting an SMR built in their province. Because of the costs of an SMR, it is very unlikely that we can build our own plant.
“We are aiming to acquire a share of such a project. The more members we have, the bigger the share. Such a process will take about five years from the moment a permit is given. Getting a permit obviously is the hardest part and will also take several years.”