Climate Change to Reduce Generation Capacity of Power Plants
from EESI News
Nuclear and fossil fuel-fired power plants will likely become less reliable as climate change becomes more severe, according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change. Climate change already has resulted in warmer water temperatures and decreased river flow, a trend that is very likely to continue. Thermoelectric plants — nuclear, coal, and most natural gas-fired power plants — rely on nearby water supplies to cool the steam generated by the plants. Warmer and/or reduced water supplies can inhibit power plants from properly cooling, forcing them to reduce production or temporarily shut down. Such disruptions have become increasingly frequent. The study concludes that reductions in water supply will decrease the overall generation capacity of thermoelectric power plants by 6-19 percent in Europe and 4-16 percent in the United States between 2031-2060. Such a loss of capacity would force additional investment in generation capacity, significantly raise electricity rates, and decrease power reliability. The study projects the largest U.S. disruptions will be located at inland power plants in the Southeast, which rely on especially vulnerable rivers.