Nuclear Drought

We already know that nuclear power is uneconomical, damages the environment and leaves us with a nasty and as-yet-unsolved waste problem – ‘energy too cheap to meter’, it isn’t. But here’s another reason for not investing in new nuclear plants – the weather. It’s been awfully dry this year, hasn’t it? We’ve had real droughts in both the US and Europe. The thing is, nuclear plants need a lot of water to run safely and efficiently, and the global water shortage is one of the major unmentioned crises currently facing the human race. Lucky there are better options available, eh?

7 thoughts on “Nuclear Drought”

  1. You know the most interesting part about this blog? We read (some) of the same web sites.

    I generally look at my rss feeder twice daily. In the evening I can count on many many dupes – stuff that is covered here, I’m also reading elsewhere.

    Which is pretty keen when you think about. Why?

    Years ago pop culture was shared. In the US we had four channels, pop radio and the movies. If it was populare you could make a touchstone reference to it and people would know “Hawaii 50” or “The Waltons”. Even if you didn’t watch you still got it.

    Then we seemed to be getting away from all that – what with cable, video rental, DVD, streaming audio … and we’re back to the shared experiences. But in smaller groups, more widely disperesed.

    If this goes on .. expect to see a kid in Oslo having much in common with a guy working in the Mars base, thanks to delicio, and RSS feeds.

  2. Well the weather is certainly changing. That is for sure. I am a fan of this site that let’s anyone see just how much the ocean water is heating up each year and the worldwide effect it has on storms.

    I don’t know what it will mean for the dry spells but it leaves little doubt about the impact of global warming.

    In fact right now there is a big circulation stirring now in the gulf visible at the global warming page link:

    Perhaps this year will have the predicted storms after all.

    Additionally the north pole ice cap is really melting!

  3. Yes the plants need a lot of water, but they don’t destroy it in the process. The water does not become contaminated it is discharged as steam and as warm water into the local river, lake, whatever. The only effect I could see this having is increasing precipitation (adding more moisture to the air).

  4. Does nuclear power need more water than hydro? Than irrigating corn for ethanol? Nuclear power is such an obvious antidote to climate change that it’s hard to take seriously those who are against both.

  5. A drought is a shortage or lack of precipitation, not an absolute absense of water. One thing always available is water. It is just not always in a state which we can use it for drinking or growing crops. Deep drilling has always found water but it is usually hot and high in mineral concentration. Place the nuclear power plants on the coast. You need a heat sink not simply “water”.

  6. Kadomount; water vapour adds to the greenhouse effect too…and if we’re expelling hot water or steam from a plant, that means there is generated energy being not only wasted, but poured into an already overheated environment by a technology that is touted as environmentally sound.

    Larry; point taken, but neither a field of ethanol-corn nor a hydroelectric plant will become dangerously unstable in the absence of sufficient water. As for irrigation, current methods *are* vastly inefficient, but ploughing the cost of one nuclear plant into research aimed at improving water delivery in agriculture would be a much longer-sighted idea.

    JD; deep drilling isn’t a cheap option, especially when added to the cost of a standard nuclear plant, and if you’re going to drill that deep, why not use geothermal gradients to create power? Granted, you could use a coastal location, and employ the sea-water as your heat sink, but there again you are going to cause a substantial change in the local ecology by raising regional water temperature. Goodbye fish stocks (and a large part of the local economy), hello algal blooms that will spread beyond the local region and cause yet more environmental damage.

    We have the option to employ technologies that will generate power for us without negatively impacting on the area around them from an ecological point of view; investing in more expensive options that will take years to come on-line and cause many of the problems that traditional fossil-fuel methods already create seems to me to be a step sideways, not forwards.

  7. I’m afraid most folks just don’t have much more than a very narrow perspective on things. Just do the math on these conditions: a few dozen good-sized forest fires put more heat into the atmospheere than 10,000 nuclear plants could do. Try BTUs per cubic meter per hour. Likewise, one good hurricane will put more ocean moisture up than the same 10,000 nuclear plants. Try grams of H2O per cubic meter per hour. QED

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