Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Water-guzzling nuclear reactors should have no place in a global warming world

For nuclear plants, that warning is particularly grave.  Reactors require 720 gallons of water per megawatt-hour of electricity they produce……Solar plants, by contrast, use approximately 20 gallons per megawatt-hour, mostly for cleaning equipment

Trump Administration’s Climate Report Raises New Questions About Nuclear Energy’s Future
The thirstiest source of electricity is already struggling, and greater risk of droughts will only add to those woes. Huffington Post.
By Alexander C. Kaufman, 28 Nov 18, 

Call it the nuclear power industry’s thirst trap.

The United States’ aging fleet of nuclear reactors ― responsible for one-fifth of the country’s electricity and most of its low-carbon power ― has never been more necessary as policymakers scramble to shrink planet-warming emissions. Yet the plants are struggling to stay afloat, with six stations shut down in the last five years and an additional 16 reactors scheduled to close over the next decade. So far, new coal- and gas-burning facilities are replacing them.

The nuclear industry blames high maintenance costs, competition from cheaper alternatives and hostile regulators concerned about radiation disasters like the 2012 Fukushima meltdown in Japan. But the country’s most water-intensive source of electricity faces what could be an even bigger problem as climate change increases the risk of drought and taxes already crumbling water infrastructure.

That finding, highlighted in the landmark climate change report that the Trump administration released with apparent reluctance last Friday, illustrates the complex and at times paradoxical realities of anthropogenic, or human-caused, warming. It also stokes an already hot debate over the role nuclear energy should play in fighting global warming, a month after United Nations scientists warned that carbon dioxide emissions must be halved in the next 12 years to avoid cataclysmic climate change leading to at least $54 trillion in damage.

The report ― the second installment of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated update on the causes and effects of anthropogenic warming from 13 federal agencies ― devoted its entire third chapter to water contamination and depletion. Aging, deteriorating infrastructure means “water systems face considerable risk even without anticipated future climate changes,” the report states. But warming-linked droughts and drastic changes in seasonal precipitation “will add to the stress on water supplies and adversely impact water supply.”

Nearly every sector of the economy is susceptible to water system changes. And utilities are particularly at risk. In the fourth chapter, the report’s roughly 300 authors conclude, “Most U.S. power plants … rely on a steady supply of water for cooling, and operations are expected to be affected by changes in water availability and temperature increases.”

For nuclear plants, that warning is particularly grave.  Reactors require 720 gallons of water per megawatt-hour of electricity they produce, according to data from the National Energy Technology Laboratory in West Virginia cited in 2012 by the magazine New Scientist. That compares with the roughly 500 gallons coal requires and 190 gallons natural gas needs to produce the same amount of electricity. Solar plants, by contrast, use approximately 20 gallons per megawatt-hour, mostly for cleaning equipment, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group.

Nuclear plants are already vulnerable to drought. Federal regulations require plants to shut down if water in the river or lake that feeds its cooling drops below a certain level. By the end of the 2012 North American heat wave, nuclear generation fell to its lowest point in a decade, with plants operating at only 93 percent of capacity.

The availability of water is one problem, particularly for the majority of U.S. nuclear plants located far from the coasts and dependent on freshwater. Another is the temperature of the water that’s available.

Nearly half the nuclear plants in the U.S. use once-through cooling systems, meaning they draw water from a local source, cool their reactors, then discharge the warmed water into another part of the river, lake, aquifer or ocean. Environmental regulations bar plants from releasing used water back into nature above certain temperatures. In recent years, regulators in states like New York and California rejected plant operators’ requests to pull more water from local rivers, essentially mandating the installation of costly closed-loop systems that cool and reuse cooling water.

In 2012, Connecticut’s lone nuclear power plant shut down one of its two units because the seawater used to cool the plant was too warm. The heat wave that struck Europe this summer forced utilities to scale back electricity production at nuclear plants in Finland, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. In France the utility EDF shut down four reactors in one day.

“Already they’re having trouble competing against natural gas and renewable energy,” said John Rogers, a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Add onto that high water temperatures, high air temperatures and drought. It’s just another challenge.”

……..  the heart of the biggest question looming over the nuclear industry: Is it, given the radioactive waste it produces, clean energy?

……… For the Sierra Club, the environmental giant making a huge push to get cities and states to go all renewable, nuclear power is “a uniquely dangerous energy technology for humanity” and “no solution to climate change.”

“There’s no reason to keep throwing good money after bad on nuclear energy,” Lauren Lantry, a Sierra Club spokeswoman, said by email. “It’s clear that every dollar spent on nuclear is one less dollar spent on truly safe, affordable, and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, energy efficiency, battery storage, and smart grid technology.”  https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/nuclear-energy-climate-change-report_us_5bfdb9cae4b0a46950dce58f

Advertisements

November 29, 2018 - Posted by | General News

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: