Nuclear plants facing increased threat from global warming

Regulatory bodies are calling for more to be done by nuclear plant owners to deal with rising sea levels associated with global warming.

National Geographic reports that because nuclear reactors require vast amounts of cool water, they are frequently located near coastlines and as seen at Fukushima, the proximity to water can have severe consequences.
Bodies such as the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission are communicating with plant owners the need to strategise more to combat vulnerability to floods and storm surges.

Actions from the NRC include requiring that all existing and future US nuclear power plants have mitigating strategies, onsite emergency response procedures, and emergency plans in case of a prolonged blackout.

The website quotes Ken Holt, a spokesperson for Dominion, which operates the Millstone nuclear plant in Connecticut, as saying that the more immediate concern from climate change may be the rise in seawater temperatures, because nuclear plants need the water to help cool the reactors.

When water tempreature increases plant output may drop 1-2 per cent. The phenomenon is already seem in different plant efficiencies in summer and winter.  

Dr Jonathan Cobb of the World Nuclear Association told Power Engineering International, "Climate change has the potential to affect almost all forms of electricity production, whether it's efficiency of cooling water for thermal plant, increased cloud cover affecting solar, rainfall impacting hydro or changing wind patterns. All forms of generation need to take climate change impacts into account and we should be using low carbon options to help keep the effects of climate change to a minimum."


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