Monday, December 03, 2007

Water Consumption and Nuclear Power Plants

Over the past few weeks, we've seen a lot of stories concerning water consumption and nuclear power plants, which means plenty of anti-nukes are trying to take advantage by spreading plenty of FUD about the issue. To get the real deal on what's going on, check out this fact sheet NEI recently published on the topic:

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, thermoelectric power generation accounts for only 3.3 percent of freshwater consumption in this country, the same percentage as industrial use and raising livestock. Residential use accounts for 7.1 percent of water consumption, while commercial use and mining are the least at 1.2 percent each. The largest consumption of water is for irrigation, at 80.6 percent.
Keep those numbers in mind.

3 comments:

Daniel Work said...

And if the unit is near the coast it can be used for desalination (see http://www.uic.com.au/nip74.htm). Which makes it a net positive on water resources.

But I'm sure this will lead Dr Helen Caldicott that nuclear power will lead to the emptying of the world's oceans :)

Anonymous said...

From the NEI fact sheet: Nuclear energy consumes 400 gal/mWh with once-through cooling, 400 to 720 gal/mWh with pond cooling and about 720 gal/mWh with cooling towers.

I don't understand this. 720 gal/mWh is what one would have to evaporate to get rid of the heat, so that seems right for a cooling tower. Why does once-through consume any water? I thought that the water was heated a few degrees and then returned to the body of water it came from.

Anonymous said...

The plant can vary how much power it outputs (how many mWh's). For different power outputs, the core gets hotter and they need to intake the water faster to keep it cool. It still goes back from where it came from.