Nuclear power can’t take the heat

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Future nuclear power plants, which are to be given the green light in the Government’s Energy White Paper later this week, will be forced to reduce their output as temperatures rise as a result of climate change, the International Herald Tribune has reported.

Because nuclear power stations require vast quantities of fresh water to cool the reactors, water shortages or droughts that occur because of the warmer air temperatures caused by global warming could mean that the plants have to be shut down at the very time when electricity is in highest demand.

‘We're going to have to solve the climate-change problem if we're going to have nuclear power, not the other way around,’ David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer from the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the International Herald Tribune.

‘As the climate warms up, nuclear power plants are less able to deliver,’ he added.

Nuclear power plants are being touted as a solution to climate change because of their supposedly low carbon emissions, although many environmentalists dispute this.

‘Nuclear power actually is worsening the effects of climate change already under way,’ Stephane L’homme, a spokesman for the French nuclear campaign group Sortie de Nucleaire, told the IHT.

To read the Ecologist's comprehensive report on nuclear power, click here.

This article first appeared in the Ecologist May 2007