Skip to main content

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.

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.

Popular posts from this blog

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…