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We are now in the beginning of a full on warming world. Our chance to prevent this is over. Now we are left with mitigating the damage. One of the casualties of our overconsumption and lack of forsight is water. We have alternatives to fossil fuel water guzzling, climate changing, energy sources, but we have chosen not to use them. We have no alternative to water. Before we go down a road that has no good end, we need to perform a reality check on the future of energy generation. One of the questions NOT asked in this article is "why are utilities not required to look forward in their EIS's at water supply vs requirements" in a future where across the board studies say we are moving into drought conditions in many places where , traditionally, drought has not been a major issue.
NYTimes l MICHAEL E. WEBBER 23 July, 2012
WE’RE now in the midst of the nation’s most widespread drought in 60 years, stretching across 29 states and threatening farmers, their crops and livestock. But there is another risk as water becomes more scarce. Power plants may be forced to shut down, and oil and gas production may be threatened.
Our energy system depends on water. About half of the nation’s water withdrawals every day are just for cooling power plants. In addition, the oil and gas industries use tens of millions of gallons a day, injecting water into aging oil fields to improve production, and to free natural gas in shale formations through hydraulic fracturing. Those numbers are not large from a national perspective, but they can be significant locally.
All told, we withdraw more water for the energy sector than for agriculture. Unfortunately, this relationship means that water problems become energy problems that are serious enough to warrant high-level attention.
Climate change deniers abound but the evidence is all around us. Weather extremes are getting wider and more frequent, the temperature is inching upward, and the world is starting to look at water differently. In a look at how long we can pretend something isn't happening when the evidence is right before our eyes Peter Sinclair examines nuclear power and it's use and abuse of water in a warming world. The impacts of which may well shut reactors down where common sense has failed.
"The problem of Nuclear plant performance in climate driven heat waves is well known. During the European Heat Wave of 2003, and several times since, many of France’s vaunted nuclear plants had to be shut for fear of boiling the rivers where they drew their cooling water. In 2007, the Brown’s Ferry Nuclear plant, part of the TVA system, was forced to shut down down due to cooling water issues..."
"Water for cooling thermoelectric power generation, coal, gas and nuclear, represents 49 percent of US surface water withdrawals. The numbers are similar world wide..."
In a seperate article included within Sinclair's cautionary tale of water risk, a study funded by the European Commission done by a research center at Wageningen University in the Netherlands found it likely that:
"thermoelectric power generating capacity from 2031-60 will decrease 6-19 percent in Europe because of a lack of cooling water..." and that "the likelihood of extreme reductions in thermoelectric power generation will, on average, jump by a factor of three during the period."
We have alternatives to water intensive, toxic energy souces. We have no alternative to water.