Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Turkey Point's Innovative Waste Water Cooling Plan

Artist's rendering of Turkey Point 6&7
Today and tomorrow, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting in Florida concerning adding two reactors to FP&L’s Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station. In this guest blog post, NEI’s Bill Skaff takes a quick look at how the nuclear energy industry is breaking new ground in using reclaimed water for reactor cooling.

Carbon-free nuclear energy must continue to play a major role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Moreover, the industry is responding in innovative ways.

For instance, Florida Power & Light's (FP&L) Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station plans to use 80-90 million gallons of recycled municipal waste water each day for the cooling system of its two new nuclear units (6 and 7). This shouldn’t be a surprise since the nuclear energy industry has been and continues to be a pioneer in the large-scale use of reclaimed water for cooling.

The Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona was the first nuclear plant in the world to use recycled municipal wastewater for cooling since it began operation in the 1980s. Proving that recycled water can be used to cool large baseload power plants, Palo Verde is the largest power plant of any type in the United States, as measured by electricity production.

In addition to the planned use of recycled water, Turkey Point has also been innovative in sourcing water used for cooling. The existing nuclear plants at Turkey Point draw their cooling water from a network of self-contained cooling canals. The canals are replenished by rainfall, plant storm water runoff and salt-water aquifers.

Another innovative idea at Turkey Point to offset the recent drought, which has increased the salinity of the canals, is to utilize excess storm water from a nearby drainage canal. The company will ensure that the required amount of storm water to meet Biscayne Bay requirements is first met before it is added to the cooling canals. Despite what some opponents have tried to argue, none of the water being added to the canal system to lower the salinity comes from the state’s drinking water supply.

Editor's Note: Besides being good stewards of the environment, FP&L's two nuclear plants also help power the state's economy to the tune of $1.4 billion per year.

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