Sunday, June 21, 2009

Climate change to hit nuclear power projects?

Not sure who wrote this piece on Environmental Research Web: The use of nuclear power and/or renewable energy is seen as part of the response to climate change, but climate change may have a negative impact on some of these energy sources, limiting the contribution they can make.

Most of the UK’s nuclear plants are on the coast, so as to get access to sea-water for cooling. In future, some of these sites may be inappropriate as locations for new plants, as has been proposed, due to the risk of flooding and storm-sea ingress. The Nuclear Consultation Group, which includes leading UK experts in the field of environmental risk, said, in response to Governments new Criteria for the Siting of proposed new nuclear plants, that ‘the Strategic Siting Assessment process is flawed and inadequate. It is inconceivable that the selection of sites on vulnerable coasts in southern England represents good sense’, given that ‘the risks from climate change in the form of sea level rise, storm surge and coastal erosion at the favoured sites are serious and increasing over time’...

…Nuclear Consutlation Group member Prof. Andy Blowers, writing in the TCPA journal, said the new UK siting criteria amounted to nothing less than a means of trying to justify putting a new generation of power stations and spent fuel waste stores on existing coastal sites, most of which are likely to become submerged during the next century under the impact of sea level rise and storm surges. It’s the on-site spent fuel stores, expected to hold old fuel for 100 years, that he felt were particularly worrying.

It’s not a trivial issue. Climate Scientists are now predicting that sea levels could rise by 1 metre or more by 2100, and maybe up to 2 metres, and with increased storm surges likely as well, that could pose threats to many locations around the world- the UK included. The Institution of Mechanical Engineering, which recently published a report on ‘Climate Change, Adapting to the Inevitable’, said that coastal sites like Sizewell might have to be abandoned or relocated in the long term….

The western end of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, one of sites where there could be flood problems, shot by Richard Baker, Wikimedia Commons from, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

No comments: