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Climate change – hot weather is bad for nuclear reactors

Hot weather, hot water pose challenges for TVA nuclear, local utilities
By Brian Lawson, The Huntsville Times  , June 30, 2012, “….   Browns Ferry’s operator, the Tennessee Valley Authority, faces the same paradox every summer: the plants are designed to help meet the valley’s power demand amid the swelter, but when it gets too hot the plants may have to scale back.  Under TVA’s water discharge permits with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the water temperature downstream from the plant cannot be higher than upstream when the water reaches a temperature of 90 degrees….. David Lochbaum, a former engineer at Browns Ferry who now works with the Union of Concerned Scientists, said last week that nuclear power plants are about 33 percent efficient, so two-thirds of the waste heat they generate has to be cooled using water. Lochbaum said increasingly hot water in the Tennessee River places another potential burden on Browns Ferry operations.

Lochbaum was part of a conference call last week with area environmental advocates who said electricity generation poses an ongoing strain on water resources, especially in times of drought or the reduced rainfall levels being experienced in North Alabama this year.

A study by the River Network, released last week, found that it takes on average 40,000 gallons of fresh water to produce a megawatt of electricity. The water is used, polluted or consumed in making the electricity, said Wendy Wilson, national director of the River Network’s energy and climate programs.

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July 2, 2012 - Posted by | climate change, USA

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