Australian news, and some related international items

The huge water cost of nuclear power plants


The hidden water footprint of fossil fuel and nuclear power  plants You probably have no idea just how much water is needed to produce electricity Quartz, By Akshat Rathi, August 9, 2018  “…. The trouble is that thermal electricity generation—a category that includes coal, natural gas, and nuclear power—doesn’t just require fuel, but also water. And a lot of it.

In the US and Europe, more than half of the water drawn from nature is used for power generation. This year’s heatwave has forced some of those power plants to shut down.

As Quartz previously explained:

Thermal power plants use high-temperature steam to turn turbines, which convert heat energy into electricity. In the process, the steam’s temperature falls, so it can no longer be used efficiently to move the turbine again. To raise its temperature back up, the steam first needs to be condensed into water, because liquids absorb heat better than gases. The condensation is achieved by using cooling water drawn from rivers, lakes, or seas, which is then dumped back at a temperature that is safe for wildlife in those waters.

The amount of water needed to produce electricity varies by the type of fuel, power-generating method, and cooling method used. A 2012 review looked at past studies to find an estimate, and its results showed a huge range: between 0 gallons (for sources like solar and wind) to 60,000 gallons for each megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity produced (for sources like nuclear and coal).

…….To be sure, the water used for cooling is sent back to the environment. A tiny fraction of it could get contaminated with chemicals, but mostly the harm comes from hot water’s effect on wildlife. If the water is too hot, it can kill plants and fish.

Non-thermal sources of electricity, such as hydropower, wind, and solar, don’t consume water for cooling. But again, one of these sources is not like the others. Hydropower works by using water itself to turn turbines and generate electricity, and it should be no surprise that it uses a lot of water, too: 4,500 gallons per MWh (median figure).

The usage mentioned so far doesn’t include the water needed to extract fuels or build the power plant, both of which can add substantially to the water footprint.   Even after including the total water use in the process of power generation from building to operating a power plant, it is generally true that the use of solar power and wind power don’t just cut greenhouse gases but also water use.

August 10, 2018 - Posted by | General News

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    In the US and Europe, more than half of the water drawn from nature is used for power generation. This year’s heatwave has forced some of those power plants to shut down.


    Comment by stuartbramhall | August 10, 2018 | Reply

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