The coming UK energy meltdown

It doesn't really matter what design of power plant you install, if you can't run it safely. Any kind of thermal plant requires coolant, be it nuclear, coal or gas, and if there's not enough water forecast to be around, you either need to re-engineer your current plant, or build rather more plant to compensate, which needs even more investment... Since gas is marginally less thirsty, it looks like shale gas may become more popular again.

Nuclear, coal power face climate change risk-study | Reuters

"SINGAPORE, June 4 (Reuters) - Warmer water and reduced river flows will cause more power disruptions for nuclear and coal-fired power plants in the United States and Europe in future, scientists say, and lead to a rethink on how best to cool power stations in a hotter world.

In a study published on Monday, a team of European and U.S. scientists focused on projections of rising temperatures and lower river levels in summer and how these impacts would affect power plants dependent on river water for cooling.

The authors predict that coal and nuclear power generating capacity between 2031 and 2060 will decrease by between 4 and 16 percent in the United States and a 6 to 19 percent decline in Europe due to lack of cooling water.

The likelihood of extreme drops in power generation, either complete or almost-total shutdowns, was projected to almost triple.

"This study suggests that our reliance on thermal cooling is something that we're going to have to revisit," co-author Dennis Lettenmaier, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a statement.


Thermoelectric power plants supply more than 90 percent of electricity in the United States and account for 40 percent of the nation's freshwater usage, says the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

In Europe, such plants supply three-quarters of the electricity and account for about half of the freshwater use.

Coal, nuclear and gas plants turn large amounts of water into steam to spin a turbine. They also rely on water at consistent temperatures to cool the turbines and any spike in river water temperatures can affect a plant's operation.

Disruptions to power supplies were already occurring, the authors noted.

During warm, dry summers in 2003, 2006 and 2009 several power plants in Europe cut production because of restricted availability of cooling water, driving up power prices.

A similar event in 2007-2008 in the United States caused several power plants to reduce production, or shut down for several days because of a lack of water for cooling and environmental restrictions on warm water discharges back into rivers, the study said.

In the past few months, large parts of the United States have suffered record heat, with March being the warmest on record for the contiguous 48 states, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The study projects the most significant U.S. impacts at power plants inland along major rivers in the Southeast.

"Considering the increase in future electricity demand, there is a strong need for improved climate adaptation strategies in the thermoelectric power sector to assure future energy security," the authors say in the study.

They also point to U.S and European laws enshrining strict environmental standards for the volume of water withdrawn by plants and the temperature of the water discharged.

Adaptation strategies include placing new plants near the sea or building more gas-fired power plants, which are more efficient and use less water."
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
Hectortheinspector wrote "Adaptation strategies include placing new plants near the sea"
I think the Japanese have tried that. Didn't quite work out as planned so I'm told.
 
Hectortheinspector wrote "Adaptation strategies include placing new plants near the sea"
I think the Japanese have tried that. Didn't quite work out as planned so I'm told.

I think you'll find it went really well, well until the sea went into the plant.

I'll get my coat..........
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
I've mentioned it on other, similar threads but there was quite a flurry of interest in both the scientific and general media in thorium about a year back.

The Chinese are apparently very interested in the technology whereas the EC's pulled funding - something to do with asking the French (who just happen to have a big sunk investment in uranium-based power generation... d'oh) to provide the expert opinion on viability.

Anyone with a more chemistry-minded brain than mine got any insight?
 
There is one aspect of the energy debate that causes me considerable amusement. In Britain and in Germany so many people speak of "renewable energy". There is no such animal, never has been and never will be. The energy we use in whatever form almost invariably ends up as heat or work. It cannot be renewed; there are however renewable energy sources. Coal, oil and gas; takes a few million years, but they are renewable. Nuclear fuel will only be renewable if the sun goes supernova, enery shortage would then be the least of our problems. As for wind and solar power they are not renewable and in around 4000 million years the sun will go out. Hopefully by then we will have solved our energy problems.
Hopefully.
 
Yes, that's an upside of wielding the wrecking ball in the 80s.

Now think about desperately needing to get at it within a decade or two as the UK is forced to pay through the nose fror energy by Gazprom, EDF's French grid etc. The startup costs and lead times will no doubt be considerable.

Considerably faster and cheaper than building nuclear power plants though
 
Y
During the Enron inflicted power cuts in Silicon Valley we were being told to live in the dark on Stamford campus while all these cooperate towers were blazing away, some wonk told me it was inherent in the building design, actually turning the lights off buggered the air con, go figure.


Funny you should say that because a company I used to work for used to have one of the most energy efficient buildings in Europe (they knocked it down ten years ago). It was lit up like a Christmas tree and to work most efficiently it had to have people in the building to recycle body heat.
 
There is one aspect of the energy debate that causes me considerable amusement. In Britain and in Germany so many people speak of "renewable energy". There is no such animal, never has been and never will be. The energy we use in whatever form almost invariably ends up as heat or work. It cannot be renewed; there are however renewable energy sources. Coal, oil and gas; takes a few million years, but they are renewable. Nuclear fuel will only be renewable if the sun goes supernova, enery shortage would then be the least of our problems. As for wind and solar power they are not renewable and in around 4000 million years the sun will go out. Hopefully by then we will have solved our energy problems.
Hopefully.

In Newtonian physics energy can neither be created nor destroyed; the Law of Conservation of Energy. So, when we burn a fossil fuel, we convert chemical energy into a combination of thermal energy, kinetic energy, potential energy, electrical energy, electro-chemical energy and sound energy. There will also be some residual chemical energy in the products of combustion.

Any process involving "conventional" energy involves the conversion of one or more of the energy types above to one of more of the others. There is no such thing as solar energy or wind energy, whether renewable or not.

The only place where we can "create" energy is through nuclear energy, where matter is converted into energy. In theory, energy can be converted to mass too. Modern physicists think of mass and energy as one finite and fixed system.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
daw mill pit on fire underground according to the news. unlikely it will reopen as the face is 5 miles from the pit head apparently
 
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