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In Hot Water: The Effects of Even Modern Nuke Plants On Water 303

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the fish-hate-people dept.
Harperdog writes "Dawn Stover has a fascinating article on the newest nuclear power plant to get approval: the Blue Castle Project on the Green River in Utah. Stover details the enormous damage done by nuke plants on local water systems, and points out that the 1-2 punch of climate change and cooling systems is already taking a toll on the ability of nuclear power plants to operate, because in summer the water they use to cool systems with is too hot even before they use it (Tennessee Valley Authority is the example). "
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In Hot Water: The Effects of Even Modern Nuke Plants On Water

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  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:47PM (#39046707) Journal
    Considering that we're finally seeing liquid fueled molten salt reactors built (in China) based on cutting edge state-of-the-1960s technology can we stop calling pressurized water and boiling water reactors "modern"?
    • Doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sycodon (149926) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:13PM (#39047147)

      The Nuke Haters will always hate.

      There will always be something that damages some part of the environment.

      There will always be some scenario that could possibly result in the end of us all.

      • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:20PM (#39047283)

        The ironic thing about this situation is that the entire problem could be solved (especially for newer reactors) by building cooling towers rather than using rivers for cooling. But cooling towers look scary, so nobody likes them.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I like them.

        • by bigtrike (904535)

          Aren't those much more expensive to operate?

        • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:5, Informative)

          by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @02:09PM (#39048101) Homepage

          Yup, the French make prolific use of cooling towers in order to reduce thermal impact on rivers.

          Also keep in mind that this affects coal plants just as much as nuke plants, and will also affect combined cycle natural gas plants that use steam for a bottom cycle.

          • by sjames (1099)

            Yes. Any process that uses heat to generate electricity has to have a sink That includes solar thermal.

        • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:5, Informative)

          by jbengt (874751) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @02:19PM (#39048255)

          The ironic thing about this situation is that the entire problem could be solved (especially for newer reactors) by building cooling towers rather than using rivers for cooling.

          Uh, no. Even if I hadn't RTFA I'd know you are wrong. Cooling towers are built to cool the water through evaporation, and said evaporation (and blowdown) of the proposed "closed-loop" cooling system is what TFA was complaining about, since none of the water taken would be returned to the river.
          Also, a lot of cooling towers are built precisely to cool the used river water before returning it to the river, so, because of evaporation, they not only return less water to the river than taken, because the river is lower temperature than the typical ambient wet bulb temperature, what they return is warmer than the river (unless you had a really unusually hot river).

    • by sl3xd (111641) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:20PM (#39047275) Journal

      The fact that PWR and BWR have a history that stretches back decades doesn't mean a new water reactor isn't "modern". PWR and BWR reactors are the main operating principle of the reactor - in both cases, water cooling.

      Complaining that the new reactors are also water cooled is a lot like saying a car's engine can't possibly be effective or safe because it's based on the century-plus old principle of a piston-driven combustion cycle.

      Going with the new for the sake of 'newness' ignores a solid foundation that has withstood the test of time.

      There are advantages in using modern evolved PWR and BWR reactors - namely decades of refinements and operational experience with the design, as well as technicians that understand the reactor, and safety issues involved.

      • by Bengie (1121981)

        I think you have the wrong idea of "modern". There are much much better safer less waste designs.

        Using the car analogy, a "modern" water reactor is like using current tools to build a Model T to it's original specification, then dropping an electric starter in it and calling it "modern". It may be "new", but that doesn't mean "modern".

        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          No a "modern" water reactor is like a current internal combustion vehicle - It has vast increases in safety (crumple zones, ABS, stability control, power steering and brakes) and significant improvements in efficiency (improved engine control, improved design methodology), but the fundamental operating principles are the same. Is a non-hybrid internal combustion vehicle such as a GDI Hyundai Sonata not "modern"? I don't think so - they are still modern even though its fundamental operating principles are

      • by epine (68316)

        Complaining that the new reactors are also water cooled is a lot like saying a car's engine can't possibly be effective or safe because it's based on the century-plus old principle of a piston-driven combustion cycle.

        Suppose the Hindenburg accident had never happened and the hydrogen blimp survived its perilous infancy, only to have several spectacular Hindenburg incidents decades later, on much safer designs replete with the benefit of experience and refinement, but also against a much larger operational f

    • by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:26PM (#39047375) Homepage

      "liquid fueled molten salt reactors"

      No, we're seeing *one* built, and it's purely experimental. And they don't expect to have it until 2020 or so.

      "There will always be something that damages some part of the environment"

      It doesn't make a difference. Nuclear power is *not* a savour even under the best-case scenarios. Lead times are so huge, and fuel lifetimes so short (like 20 years or less) that the overall impact they'll make is basically zero.

      We are *far* better off investing in CCAS technology on large coal plants deploying all the wind and solar we can. Those can go in today and have long operational lifetimes. By the time we get even one *really* new plant up and running, we could have converted the vast majority of existing plants and brought on huge amounts of renewables.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        I guess the best idea would be to have many smaller reactors that could be faster to build. The only problem there is that the nuclear fuel would be spread all over the country. If they can fit a nuclear generator on a submarine, I don't see why they couldn't build small reactors and have them easily dispersed all over the country. A standardized design would mean that it would benefit from economies of scale. Also, because each station only contains a small amount of nuclear fuel, meltdowns would be muc
      • by gewalker (57809)

        Better off with coal? Coal plants emit more than 10 time the radiation into the environment than a thorium based molten salt reactor would use. In fact, they emit more than 10 times the thorium than an equivalent thorium reactor would use. We cannot run out of thorium faster than we would run out of coal. The very smart designers of the molten salt reactors expected them to be thorium based, and they could be put on-line within 10 years if we had the will to do so.

        Do your own research, molten salt thorium r

      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        Actually, under a best case scenario (zero accidents, recycled fuel), nuclear power is a very obvious saviour. You could replace pretty much all major plants with nuclear and CO2 emissions as well as a number of other emissions that come from older coal-burning plants would crash to zero. We would also have enough fuel to last us at least a millennium with recycling when factoring in usage growth.

        The issue is getting to this scenario. We still have ancient plants that we have to run because research is cons

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mike Van Pelt (32582)

        Nuclear power is *not* a savour even under the best-case scenarios. Lead times are so huge, and fuel lifetimes so short (like 20 years or less) that the overall impact they'll make is basically zero.

        Long lead time arguments are mostly an "Eric and Lyle Menendez [wikipedia.org] demand the court's mercy because they are orphans" argument. Omni-obstructionists use over-the-top scaremongering and blatant barratry to force huge delays to any nuclear project, then use the long delays that they have caused themselves as an argument.

        "20 years of uranium" is a bogus number that has been debunked many times. 1) 20 years proven reserves does not mean it will run out in 20 years. 2) That's 20 years proven reserves assuming the

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @03:05PM (#39049069) Homepage

          One problem I have with breeders isn't that they contribute to proliferation - Dr. Kahn basically tossed that argument into the winds - it's that they don't seem to work well. There are a number of breeder installation wordwide - most have had major accidents / problems. It isn't a technology that has shown it can be geared up. Perhaps it can but the British and Japanese aren't doing an especially good job of convincing anyone.

    • The AP1000 design that just got its COL approved is a PWR. General Electric's newest Plant is the ESBWR (a BWR). Areva is designing the EPR (a PWR). Molten salt reactors are a pipe dream in commercial power generation. The reason companies are sticking with BWR/PWR designs is due to licensing requirements. The NRC already knows how to license BWR/PWR. It will be quite a while before they have a licensing process from Gen IV/V reactors. Given that; why would a company design a commercial reactor witho
      • I don't disagree with you - the regulators are forcing this industry to stay in the stone age. They especially don't want technologies to be developed which are so inherently safe as to make the licensing process appear to be redundant because nobody likes it when their job becomes obsolete.
  • i) Use some of the power from the power plant to pre cool the water
    ii) Completely turn the worlds power supply to nuclear. Should reduce global warming, and stop this issue
    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:53PM (#39046795) Homepage

      Point i) is a thermodynamics fail.

      • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:59PM (#39046911)

        Point i) is a thermodynamics fail.

        Only in the American South. Seriously. Not even a weird anti-science joke.

        You blow water thru the air or air thru the water and the water temp, air temp, and dew point of the air all eventually converge to the same number, usually dropping the temp of the water considerably. Works really well in a low dew point area like a desert. Of course low dew point areas usually don't have the spare water to waste evaporating it away. So the cost is a lot of extra water evaporation and quite a bit of electricity to run the pumps. You don't have to get all aquarium tube-y, this can be as simple as an artificial pumped waterfall or a really elaborate water fountain appearing thing. Oxygenates the water too.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Not a thermodynamics fail in Utah. The Palo Verde nuke plant in Arizona does OK in a desert climate. The Utah plant would be no different. Desert climate usually equates to low relative humidity, which means the evaporative cooling used in the condensers will still work, even in the peak of summer there.

          Contrast that with the southeast US, where high temps *and* high humidity reign in the summer. During the drought, water levels were way lower than they were. Shallower bodies of water tend to be warmer tha

        • by MobyDisk (75490)

          I think that really is a thermodynamics fail.

          Anything you do to pre-cool the water would be better done after the water has been heated by the plant. Ex: If you can air cool the water, then do it afterward. The temperature gradient is higher so it will be more efficient. Also, the idea of the American South implies you are thinking of evaporative cooling, which uses water to cool something else. You don't cool the water itself that way.

      • by ichthus (72442)
        No it isn't. You're assuming that the water is not capable of cooling at all without first being cooled. This is not the case. If the water is even one degree cooler than the reactor, it is capable of cooling. The fact is, the water would not have to be cooled much to be completely effective -- you would not need to use the total of the energy produced to cool the system, because the water already has some cooling capacity.
        • Any energy you expend to refrigerate the cooling water will exceed the benefit you get.
          • by vlm (69642)

            Any energy you expend to refrigerate the cooling water will exceed the benefit you get.

            Unless your condenser coils hang in air, not back into the same water you're trying to cool.

            Lets see... COP of 4 is relatively unambitious for ammonia refrigerant, if I remember correctly. So you dump 1/4 GW into some ammonia compressors, hang the condensers in the air so they dump out around one GW or so, then around a GW or so of heat gets sucked out via the evap coils in the water.

            It is technically possible, but it is probably cheaper to move the plant somewhere that is nicer to live and operate, and in

          • by robot256 (1635039) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:30PM (#39047447)

            That would be true if you were trying to cool the water with the energy you extracted *from the water*. But a nuclear reactor does not conserve energy, it has input from the nuclear fuel. The only reason you need to cool the water at all is because the fuel is generating more heat than you can extract in your turbines, either because of their design or because of the limited electricity demand. If you have a place to dump the extra heat, using some of that electricity to get it from point A to point B is not thermodynamically implausible.

            The reason this is a stupid idea is completely unrelated, though. If the reactor design requires active refrigeration, this is even more likely to fail than simple pumps, and you run a much higher risk of melting down. And if it is not required, no one would want to pay extra for a redundant overly-complicated system unless there are other reasons not to use the passive system in normal operation.

        • Let's say your reactor runs at 1000K (Your one degree cooler water is 999K)

          Thermal efficiency = 1 - (999/1000) = 0.1%

          Your reactor is 0.1% efficient. That's not so good.

  • Can someone digest the data and give me a distance equivalent in miles? For example, I live about 30 miles south of a great lakes nuke. I know a lot about nukes. I don't know enough about ecology to figure the distance.

    What I'm getting at is obviously the water in lake michigan is warmer in Milwaukee than at the Point Beach nuke. So building the Point Beach plant did the equivalent of picking up that splotch of lake michigan and dropping it further south. How much further south? 100 feet? 100 miles?

  • Dumb article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phayes (202222) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:54PM (#39046813) Homepage

    According to TFA: "more than one billion aquatic organisms" are killed annually by NY's Indian Point plant.

    No definition of what they mean by "aquatic organism" is given. Blue whales? Minnows? Paramecium?

    • by vlm (69642)

      According to TFA: "more than one billion aquatic organisms" are killed annually by NY's Indian Point plant.

      No definition of what they mean by "aquatic organism" is given. Blue whales? Minnows? Paramecium?

      That means one organism per 2.5 * 365 = about 912 gallons. That can't be distinct algae cells unless its nearly sterile water. Then again my 40 gallon tropical fish freshwater tank has around 10 fish, admittedly that is a pretty high loading but doable, at around 4 gallons per fish. They are probably talking about fish and are probably counting everything from hatched egg on up.

      You'd think at those numbers, a nuke would be surrounded by a sea of floating bloated bodies, but when I toured one I didn't see

      • That means one organism per 2.5 * 365 = about 912 gallons. That can't be distinct algae cells unless its nearly sterile water.

        You're doing the math assuming that every living organism is killed, and so the numbers can't be right for algae because there must be more algae than that. I suspect what is actually going on is that some very small minority of algae (and other organisms) are killed, but there is so much algae that it ends up being a big number. After all, who other than pedant scientists would call a fish an "organism"?

    • by JazzHarper (745403) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:13PM (#39047157) Journal

      More than one billion aquatic organisms are killed annually by my town's surface water treatment facility, I hope.

    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Mermaids.

    • According to TFA: "more than one billion aquatic organisms" are killed annually by NY's Indian Point plant.

      No definition of what they mean by "aquatic organism" is given. Blue whales? Minnows? Paramecium?

      I live about 5 miles from the Surry Nuclear Power Plant [wikipedia.org] which draws and discharges its cooling water directly from the James River -- there are no cooling towers at all. You think this would be a worst case scenario for increasing the river water temperature and killing off organisms but I've never heard a thing about that in the 10 years I've lived here. The wiki article says that testing has minimal environmental impact but doesn't cite who performs the testing or how it was done.

  • Magical water (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Applekid (993327)

    Pro tip: evaporating water does not make it disappear.

    The complaint is that a closed-cycle plant pulls water from the river and never returns it. Well, if they already lose 5% per pass due to evaporation and, when dirty enough, pipe the water to evaporation basins, doesn't that return the water to the environment?

    • Re:Magical water (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:09PM (#39047073) Journal
      The aren't worried about water being removed from the environment, they're worried about it being removed from the ecosystem (or changing the ecosystem by heating the water around the plant). It's great that the water doesn't disappear and re-enters the water cycle, but that isn't any consolation to the people and creatures who were relying on that water downstream.
    • The whole article is a complete supposition by someone that is more interested in making a case against the power plants than they are in knowing how their operation really affects the environment. The article is specious, with the intent of fear mongering and has no business being on /. unless it was intended for the purpose of geek sport--picking it apart.
  • by liquiddark (719647) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:57PM (#39046867)
    Her suggestion that water is *never* returned to the river seems wrong. Or is the word "evaporation" in "evaporation basin" a misnomer?
  • I'm a bit confused by the article. They say it's a consumptive use, where the cooling system evaporates 5% of its water on every pass. Doesn't that water go into the atmosphere and then condense and fall as rain eventually? If so then it's not really "lost" since it will pass back into the water table. Is the issue that the condensation and rainfall may not be a local process? I feel like I'm missing something here...

    • The point is that the river downstream from where you pump the water to the plant has less water.
      When a city pumps the water from a river, the water also ends up eventually in the clouds, but that doesn't fill the river downstream from the pump.
      Maybe it is because most rain falls in the ocean... but even if all rain ended up back in the same river, downstream of the pump you'd have less water than without any pump.

    • by Leuf (918654)

      In the same way as if you were diverting the water for irrigation or drinking water, the water doesn't disappear it re-enters the system somewhere else. The people (and ecosystem, but no one really gives a damn) downstream have less of it.

      Now if you had a plant that was fed by a river that came down from mountains just to the west of the plant, and the prevailing winds were east to west, then some of the condensate would tend to end up right back into the river.

    • Yes, what you are missing is that this is article two on slashdot in the latest "OMG, what will we do when all the fresh water is gone" scare that is being promoted as an excuse to justify greater bureaucratic control over the economy.
  • by Burdell (228580) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @12:58PM (#39046897)

    All modern power generating plants that use fuel (as opposed to hydro, wind, etc.) work basically the same way. They use a fuel to generate heat (burn coal or gas, create nuclear fission), heat water to steam, and use steam to turn turbines. The water is then cooled and returned to its source, usually a river or lake. All such power plants have problems when the incoming water is too warm or they cannot cool it sufficiently before discharging it.

    The only difference between a nuclear plant and a coal/gas plant is that a nuclear plant can concentrate more generating capacity at a single location, which then can require more water.

    • Almost right. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:11PM (#39047127)

      Water used in steam turbines is distilled water - as few particulates as possible at they will erode the turbine into junk.

      The heat source heats water into steam to drive the turbines. That water is then cooled by external water before being returned to the heat source.

      The external water may be pass through or recycled, but it never ever gets to the turbines.

      And water really doesn't expand during heating (under 1%) until it boils and becomes vapor.

    • by inKubus (199753)

      Well, they require a cold-sink to operate. It's the temperature difference (gas laws, etc) that enables them to generate so much electricity. If the conventional wisdom about this is like the conventional wisdom about other electric technologies (e.g. server rooms), it's likely that a reactor could be designed that does not require as much of a cold sink or temperature differential to operate (e.g. air cooling, or converting more heat into power). The issue of course is that even the smallest chain reac

      • by Rich0 (548339) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:24PM (#39047343) Homepage

        Keep in mind those same laws of thermodynamics dictate that the larger the temperature difference, the higher the efficiency. Now, temperature isn't the same thing as heat, so that doesn't automatically put limits on small-scale operations. However, in practice it tends to do so. Generating high temperatures in a huge furnace is a lot easier than doing it in a small one, which is why a coal plant is more efficient than a car engine.

        • ...Generating high temperatures in a huge furnace is a lot easier than doing it in a small one..

          I believe you have this backwards; not sure why you got all the positive mods.

          I can trivially generate a 1000 F temperature on the end of a cigarette, but I sure can't do that to a football field.

          Similarly, I can reduce the size of the chamber in my foundry and it will heat up faster, easier, and cheaper.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Rich0 (548339)

            ...Generating high temperatures in a huge furnace is a lot easier than doing it in a small one..

            I believe you have this backwards; not sure why you got all the positive mods.

            I can trivially generate a 1000 F temperature on the end of a cigarette, but I sure can't do that to a football field.

            Similarly, I can reduce the size of the chamber in my foundry and it will heat up faster, easier, and cheaper.

            If you dumped a huge pile of cigarettes onto your football field, you'd find that it takes far fewer of them with less ventilation per cubic inch to heat them up to 1000F, compared to what you have to do with a single one. Sure, it does require more heat, but not more heat per unit of volume.

            Heat is lost through the surface of an object - the larger an object is, the less heat it loses per unit of volume through its surface, since the former increases with the cube of size, and the latter increases with th

      • a giant atom bomb that's kept from exploding with a barrier

        That's not how it works. There is never any exploding. A meltdown occurs if the reactor produces more heat than the cooling system can remove (for example, because the cooling system failed), and the reactor chamber temperature increases until things that were formerly solid start to melt, which ruins the reactor. Notwithstanding all the media hype, the consequences of a nuclear meltdown are almost exactly the same as the consequences of a building that stores spent fuel rods burning down after an electrica

    • by vlm (69642)

      The only difference between a nuclear plant and a coal/gas plant is that a nuclear plant can concentrate more generating capacity at a single location, which then can require more water.

      And the delta T of a nuke is much lower and the cycles have historically been simpler (less stuff to contaminate or break)... lower thermal efficiency means if you want 1 GWe at the substation, then a nuke needs like 3 GWt but a hot hot hot coal plant might only need to dump 2 GWt (well, to get 50% eff on a coal plant you need something bonkers like a liquid mercury combined cycle, but that's how they rolled a century or so ago...)

      So two plants, one nuke one coal/whatever at the same nameplate capacity, the

  • by na1led (1030470) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:03PM (#39046969)
    Being from Maine, I used to do a lot of fishing with my Dad, and we always used to catch good fish many years ago. Lately we catch nothing, or small yellow perch if we’re lucky. These companies have been telling us for years how they are environmentally friendly, or how they care so much about the environment. They will tell you whatever it takes to shut you up! It’s business as usual, as always!
    • by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:08PM (#39047061) Homepage
      Why else do you think we're seeing a massive "positive" publicity campaign to warm our hearts towards Hyrdraulic Fracturing? Pennsylvania will be sorry... They'll get a few thousand quick and short-term high paying jobs. Peoples real estate values in some areas will go up drastically. High school kids with no education will be making 6 figures and then spending themselves into a hole. Then the boom will end. Property values will drop, unemployment, local communities will be stuck holding the bag while the energy companies will skip town to the next boom.
    • So you caught them all. Gee, thanks...
  • Out here in the west, it makes sense to store water in large reservoirs and then use that for cooling purposes. Utah can do the same.
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:05PM (#39047019)

    We had a big solar power plant shut down in california because it infringed on the habitat of a local lizard. It was in the middle of the desert... nothing around it for miles.

    They always have a reason not to build something or shut something down. I don't care what it is or how you build it. They have a reason for shutting it down.

    What they'll say is you can't build it right there. Then you say okay, how about over there? Nope that won't work either. Then you say, okay how about this other place? Nope.

    After awhile the only place you can build something is some place where they don't have authority. If they can stop you they'll try.

    Call that cynical but that's what we've seen. We can't build anything. Try it. Ask them where you can build something. They'll promise to get back to you with an answer. Twenty years later you'll ask them if they've made progress and they'll respond "what are you talking about?"... the point is to do nothing.

    • The objective is a sustainable, post-industrial, agrarian economy... with one tenth of the present population.

      • by vlm (69642)

        The objective is a sustainable, post-industrial, agrarian economy... with one tenth of the present population.

        And whenever you ask the cowards who the 9/10th are supposed to be, the cowards always dodge the question and imply its gonna be someone else who gets the axe. No, not us of course because we are the elite enlightened ones. No not you guys, we need your support to carry out our genocide. Um, the 9/10th will be, uh, um, someone else.. Probably brown people.

      • by JWW (79176)

        Did you just propose killing 6 billion people?

        Sorry I'm willing to try almost ANY other option.

        • by rthille (8526)

          How about we just plan 100 years out? Or maybe 250? Dropping the birth rate enough would take care of it.

    • After awhile the only place you can build something is some place where they don't have authority.

      China comes to mind as one of those places. It's not just the lower labor costs but the less painful regulation in China that makes jobs move from here to there. It's ironic that we have to go to a country known for authoritarianism and corruption in order to get the freedom needed to build things.

    • So really what we need to do is develop high-efficiency power transmission that requires neither a conduit nor a receiver. Essentially, have all the power generated in China. With that power, magically store the complete power requirements for the life of the devices they manufacture for us inside.
    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @02:13PM (#39048165)

      Actually, it was an endangered tortoise, not a lizard. And it wasn't shut down, the company behind it had to acquire more land to manage habitat for displaced animals.

      So really, nothing actually happened to that particular solar plant. I swear, sometimes I think environmentalists are the new all-powerful bogeyman. Everything goes wrong is their fault, even the stuff that doesn't go wrong.

      One source: http://energy.gov/articles/department-announces-loan-guarantee-brightsource-energy-inc [energy.gov] 2 minutes of googling finds you load more.

  • Don't fossil fueled plants also have waste heat they need to dump somewhere? Do Nukes generate a lot more waste heat?

    • Nuclear power plants tend to be much larger so they have a lot more waste heat to dump. In addition, some forms of fossil fuel plants dump their waste heat directly into the air without using water cooling. This works because the combustion temperature inside a fossil-fuel power plant is much higher than the fuel plate temperatures in a water-cooled nuclear power plant so they can still be efficient overall even with using the atmosphere as a heat sink.
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Nuclear power plants tend to be much larger so they have a lot more waste heat to dump. In addition, some forms of fossil fuel plants dump their waste heat directly into the air without using water cooling. This works because the combustion temperature inside a fossil-fuel power plant is much higher than the fuel plate temperatures in a water-cooled nuclear power plant so they can still be efficient overall even with using the atmosphere as a heat sink.

        One interesting article I read said that power generation accounts for about half the water usage in the USA:

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-saving-energy-means-conserving-water [scientificamerican.com]

  • There is no difference between a nuclear station and a coal station with respect to limits on outlet temperature: generally about 30C is the upper limit. Coal units squeeze out a little more thermal efficiency because they can operate at higher temperatures, but more or less the issue is the same.
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Wednesday February 15, 2012 @01:16PM (#39047195)
    When you dam up a river, the water that flows through tends to be much colder than in the undammed river. For example, the Colorado river in the Grand Canyon is only 47F due to the Hoover Dam/Lake Mead. Maybe the local flora and fauna would actually benefit if we built some powerplants there and in the summer we heated it back up to the pre-dam summer temperatures, which were as high as 80F.
  • At Lake Anna in Virginia, there are two man-made lakes. The north lake, used for hot water discharge from the nuclear plant, is very warm and never freezes. The cold, south lake is also slightly warmer on the portion nearest to the north lake. Local environmental studies are well established but since these lakes did not exist to begin with the local ecosystem is already radically changed, anyway.

    On the Hudson River in NY, local environmental studies are just starting to understand the effect that the In

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