A view on Nuclear Energy

The following article is the result of an interview with Jean Van Vyve and provides a brief overview of the significance of and prospects for nuclear energy in the energy sector. The article is published as an eBook so you can scroll the different pages using the titles below. The full article is also available as a PDF for download.

Jean Van Vyve works for Electrabel, the largest electricity producer in Belgium, where he is responsible for nuclear energy within Business Unit Generation. Jean Van Vyve graduated in 1975 as civil engineer of the University of Louvain (UCL). He worked for Tractebel Engineering for 32 years in the nuclear field, and joined Electrabel in 2007 to take his present position.


About one third of Europe’s electricity is currently generated using nuclear technology that is in use in 17 out of the 27 EU Member States.

Jean Van Vyve forcefully makes the point that nuclear is part of an energy mix. The objective of a utility is to guarantee electricity supply at all times. For this reason, nuclear is an important part of the generation portfolio due to its reliability and characteristics, but it will always need to be used in combination with other energy sources.

Nuclear generation was chosen in the 1960s or 70s by many European countries in response to rapidly increasing oil, gas and coal prices and rising insecurity of supply. Since then, oil has more or less disappeared from the generation mix and gas has, until recently, been a major part of the generation for its flexibility. However, due to the high fluctuation of price and supply, gas is being partly replaced by nuclear or coal generation. The strategy of a utility is always to keep a balanced and varied generation mix, allowing flexibility to address supply disruptions and fuel prices evolution. Jean points out that renewables definitely have a role to play, but as a part of the portfolio; these cannot cover all energy needs.


Sergio Ferreira's picture

The 12th October 2007, Commissioner Piebalgs Stated "Nuclear is here to stay!" in a press conference of the High Level Group on nuclear safety and waste management.

One year passed, several countries have announce the withdrawal of their nuclear embargoes and/or the construction of new nuclear power plants. Fusions and acquisitions are also taking place on the nuclear sector.

Most of us would agree with Jean when he says that nuclear is part of a mix, but how big should that part be?

By Sergio Ferreira 29/09/2008
Anonymous's picture

I am looking for PHD dissertations under this topic “The feasibility study of using nuclear energy in electricity generation and desalination of sea water”. Do you know some one who has done his/her PHD in this topic? Regards, Ahmed

By Anonymous (not verified) 26/12/2009
Gregory Ashley's picture

Hi Sergio,

I would enjoy a conversation regarding the lack of waste management solutions that can fully address the total cost and risks of maintaining nuclear weapons and waste stock piles from power and weapons sources for millenium. This is a very sad stage in the history of technology and our application of human knowledge that will haunt our planet for millenia to come. Our arrogance may lead to our utimate failure.

On a positive note I am interested in discussing your experience with renewable energy in Europe.



By Gregory Ashley (not verified) 28/10/2008
Hans De Keulenaer's picture

Thanks for your comments. Technical solutions for wate management do exist, but their is no political agreement to implement them. And promising advanced waste management systems are on the horizon. See our briefing paper on 'Can nuclear power deliver?'


By Hans De Keulenaer 29/10/2008
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