Redwine, Adam B. (2010-08). Impact of Climate Change on Long Term Nuclear Power Plant Operation. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • The present work examines the potential impact of changes in climatic conditions on the long-term functioning of nuclear power plants. Nuclear power plants are potentially susceptible to changes both in acute risks, such as severe storm events, and chronic risks, such as detrimental changes in the thermodynamics of plant operation. Extending plant lifetimes well beyond the lengths of operation for which they were originally designed suggests the necessity of studying the impacts such changes might have. Potential threats are examined in light of earlier work performed by Business Continuity Consulting on commission for Enteritgy Nuclear. The fourteen risk drivers identified in that work as threats warranting additional investigation are studied individually, and their relevance and likely impact extrapolated for regions covered by the ten selected sites under examination. Thermodynamic eff ects are simulated with a plant analysis program known as PEPSE (Performance Evaluation of Plant Systems Efficiencies), with which a broad range of modeled environmental and plant conditions are analyzed for potential impacts to plant functioning. Of the fourteen climatic risk drivers considered, changes in drought and ood severity and frequency resulting from climate change were determined to be the most likely detriments to plant operations. Precipitation gures indicate that plants located in the Midwest are particularly susceptible to future drought conditions while those in the Northeast are likely to experience more frequent ooding. Many of the risk drivers specifi ed by the earlier work were only cursorily examined in light of the complex nature of these phenomena and lack of well defi ned correlation to climate change. Other risks were analyzed using the gathered data, but were determined not to pose signi ficant threats to plant operations. In addition to large scale climatic e ffects, changes related to coolant uid temperature rise and plant component efficiency were examined to qualify their e ect on the thermodynamics of the model plant. Plant operating conditions were modeled for a wide range of conditions related to theoretical environmental changes. These examinations showed negligibly small impacts caused by increased coolant water temperature and moderate impact caused by changes in air humidity.

publication date

  • August 2010