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Adapting Nuclear Power Generation in a Cold Climate

This Ouranos case study explores how nuclear power generation can adapt to cold climates in Finland.

Summary

Climate change is expected to modify sea temperature, snow and ice accumulation and frazil ice formations, which might affect the air and water intakes of nuclear power plants (NPP) in colder regions. Direct impacts include loss of production due to partial or full outages, loss of efficiency due to higher cooling water temperature, and rising costs of repairs, refurbishment, and safety upgrades. Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), an energy company based in Finland, proposed several actions to reduce these impacts. For instance, at the Olkiluoto NPP, adaptation measures consist of preventing blockage by snow of air intakes and of heating of air intakes. At the Loviisa NPP, such measures include construction of an air-cooling system to supplement sea cooling in case of frazil ice formation, and heating water intake grids to prevent frazil ice formation.

Key take-aways

  • Governments should propose a long-term investment framework as short-term economics might not be enough to drive climate change adaptation in the power sector
  • Power production regulations can play a role in driving technological changes
  • Designing resilient energy systems might require addressing power generation, grid operators, and end-use consumers together

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