Thursday, October 13, 2005

An Unexpected Benefit of Nuclear Energy

Although it may be helpful in reducing global warming, the Finns have now shown that nuclear power can provide an additional benefit by producing local warming. Bloomberg.com reports:

In the shadow of the Olkiluoto nuclear power station in western Finland, Latvian zilga grapes will this year produce about 80 bottles of red wine, said Jukka Huttunen, who cultivates the vineyard next to the facility's two reactors.

The vines are nourished by the warm water from the plant's cooling system, allowing grapes to thrive in a country that's on the same latitude as Alaska. Teollisuuden Voima Oy, the Finnish utility that owns the plant, started making wine as an experiment into uses for excess heat generated by nuclear energy. The company is now expanding production, said Huttunen.

Sea water used in the cooling process warms up by 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) and is channeled through the 1,000 square-meter (10,764 square-feet) vineyard on its way back to the Gulf of Bothia. That helps kick-start the growing season three months earlier than usual and allows vines to thrive in normally hostile Finnish soil, according to [Olli-Pekka] Luhta [, the environmental manager for Olkiluoto].
If the Finns can do this with reactors of Russian design, just think of the possibilities when they start operating their French-designed EPR.

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3 comments:

Matthew66 said...

I would'nt mind betting that some extreme anti-nuclear "environmentalists" would argue that the local warming constitutes an unacceptable environmental impact. I would disagree of course. Every form of electrical generation has environmental impacts, and the global and local community has to come to a decision about which impacts it can live with and which it can't. I can live with localized warming and deep geologic storage of used fuel or waste products from reprocessing used fuel better than I can live with ash, soot and CO2 - unless the local warming drives a plant or animal species to extinction.

Pamela said...

I don't have a problem with localized warming when it is being put to a good use such as this. Yes, ecosystems could be severely damaged by a 13C rise in temperature, but this seems to mitigate that problem. After running through the vineyard and making use of that heat, what is the temperature at which it returns to the sea?

Anonymous said...

bad conversion between Celcius and Farenheit.

You are using the correct formula
oF= 32+ 1.8XoC .

Although 13oC is 55oF in absolute terms...when you are talking about a temperature increase, a delta, the constant from the equation, 32, falls out. So a rise of 13oC is actually 13*1.8= 23.4 oF rise in temperature.