Monday, August 14, 2006

Drought-struck Australia cannot afford nuclear power

Hah! I knew it! While I've been thinking and reading and blogging on why nuclear power is not the solution to global warming for a long time now, I've been growing more and more concerned about the issue of water – nuclear power's (and uranium mining's) reliance on abundant water.

This World Changing piece, Our Nuclear Summer, confirms my belief that nuclear power generation is far too reliant on water – a resource that is dwindling in our warming planet!
For all the arguments made by the opponents of nuclear power -- that it is uneconomical, unsafe, a potential boon to terrorists, poses waste-disposal issues, and all the rest -- nuclear's biggest threat may come from the one problem it is purported to address: climate change.

If, as many climatologists suggest, the heat waves in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere are an indication of shifts in global climate patterns, it could spell doom for nuclear power, whose viability is directly linked to the availability of adequate water supplies.

Consider what's happened lately on both sides of the Atlantic.

'The extended heat wave in July aggravated drought conditions across much of Europe, lowering water levels in the lakes and rivers that many nuclear plants depend on to cool their reactors,' reports the Christian Science Monitor…
Nuclear power generators in "France, Spain and Germany were forced to take some plants offline and reduce operations at others", while a U.S. utility had to cut the power at a plant because a heat wave affected cooling water supplies from the Missippi River valley.

While World Changing acknowledges these are short-term problems, they argue that global warming's threat to water supplies poses long-term dangers to nuclear power generation.

This must be considered in responding to Australia's growing fascination with nuclear power – we don't have the water to spare for it. It's also huge irony that nuclear power is touted as a saviour to Australia's water shortage – a way to provide the cheap energy needed by water desalination plants pomoted by some in New South Wales and Queensland.

Hah. Throwing good water after bad.

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At August 15, 2006 7:54 am, Blogger Eric McErlain said...

There's less here than you think, as the difficulty these plants have run into can be easily corrected.


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