Nuclear and coal power plants use a tremendous amount of water. These plants use cool water “drawn from rivers, lakes, or seas” to condense steam back into liquid water. That water–heated to a high temperature–then is used to turn turbines “which convert heat energy into electricity.” Climate change-driven heatwaves, however, raise the temperature of water which can then prevent the use of the usual cooling water sources by power plants. The result is power plant shutdowns. During this summer’s (2018) heatwaves, Europe has seen nuclear plant shutdowns or curtailments in France, Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Switzerland. “Heatwaves [also] forced nuclear shutdowns or curtailment across Europe in 2003, 2006, and 2015.” And, it will get worse. Research indicates that climate change driving both heatwaves and droughts will make nuclear and coal plants increasingly susceptible to shutdowns or power reductions.
Europe’s heatwave is forcing nuclear power plants to shut down