Relationship of Electricity generation and Water, changes the game, 2 GW Entergy Nuclear Power Plant renewal permit denied based on warm water discharge

WSJ and others report on the New York environmental regulators, not the US EPA, denying Entergy's request for a 2 gigawatt Nuclear Power Plant renewal, supplying 30% of NYC's electricity.


New York Regulators Deny Water Permit for Nuclear Plant


NEW YORK -- New York environmental regulators have denied a key water-quality certificationEntergy Corp. needs to extend by 20 years its license to operate the 2,000-megawatt Indian Point nuclear-power plant.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation said in a letter to Entergy dated April 2 that the two units of the plant "do not and will not comply with existing New York State water quality standards," even with the addition of a new screening technology favored by Entergy to protect aquatic life. The plant's existing "once-through" system withdraws and returns as much as 2.5 billion gallons of Hudson River water a day for cooling, a system blamed by environmentalists for damaging the river's ecosystem and killing millions of fish a year, including the endangered shortnose sturgeon.

Certification under the Clean Water Act is required before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission can approve an extension of the operating license for Indian Point, which generates enough electricity to power approximately 2 million homes and is major power source for New York City. The licenses for Indian Point units 2 and 3, which came online in the 1970s, are due to expire in September 2013 and December 2015, respectively.

What is humorous is the environmental group Riverkeeper thinking that 2 gigawatt of baseload can be brought on line by 2015.

"That power is replaceable," said Alex Matthiessen, president of environmental group Riverkeeper. "The evidence for why the plant doesn't meet state water-quality standards is overwhelming," he said, adding Indian Point accounts for the deaths of about a billion fish a year and that the group estimates cooling towers could be constructed for $200 million to $300 million.

The following is a study published on air or hybrid cooling for power plants vs. water.

Emerging Issues and Needs

in Power Plant Cooling Systems

Water availability is affecting power plant placement.  You need to be thinking the same for data center placement.

However, with the construction of new power plants in recent years, perhaps the most prevalent concern with wet cooling systems has been water availability. Growing competition from municipal and agricultural users has decreased the amounts and increased the prices of good quality water resources available to industrial users. This competition is most apparent in the southwestern U.S. where the need for new electric power generation is significant, but regional surface water sources are minimal and groundwater sources are highly prized and may have designated use restrictions. But even in areas usually considered “water rich”, such as the northeastern U.S., the combination of environmental, safety & health, and resource availability concerns has resulted in an increasing interest in dry and hybrid cooling systems as alternatives to wet cooling systems.

Size of Dry Cooling system vs. Wet Cooling - 2.2 times larger

Size. By definition, dry cooling involves the transfer of heat to the atmosphere
without the evaporative loss of water (i.e., by sensible heat transfer only). Because sensible heat transfer is less efficient than evaporative heat transfer, dry cooling systems must be larger than wet cooling systems. For example, to achieve a comparable heat rejection, one study estimates that a direct dry cooling system (ACC) will have a footprint about 2.2 times larger than a wet cooling tower and a height about 1.9 times greater.2

Maintenance of operations.

• Maintenance. Both direct and indirect dry cooling systems, as well as hybrid cooling systems, are larger and mechanically more complex than corresponding wet cooling systems. In addition to the larger heat transfer surface area, dry and hybrid cooling systems will have more fans, meaning more electrical motors, gearboxes and drive shafts. As such, labor requirements for a large ACC can be substantial. At one site with a 60-cell ACC (three 20-cell bays for three separate steam turbines), the maintenance staff was increased by two people for such activities as cleaning fan
blades and heat exchanger tube fins, monitoring lube-oil systems, and leak checking the vacuum system.3
• Energy penalties. Because sensible heat transfer is directly related to the ambient dry-bulb temperature, a dry cooling system must have the flexibility to respond to typical daily temperatures variations of 20-25 °F. A dry system that maintains an optimum turbine backpressure at ambient dry-bulb temperatures of 90-95 °F, may not - 6 - be able to do so as the temperature increases, meaning a lower generating efficiency.

From a design perspective, more surface area (i.e., a larger dry cooling system) can compensate for the decline in heat transfer at high ambient temperatures; but the greater size and associated operational control are also concerns, as previously discussed.

When all  things are equal, it comes down to cost of systems.

Costs. If performance, availability and reliability appear to be equal, then the single issue that will most likely govern the selection and use of a power plant cooling system is cost. Unfortunately, the economics of power plant cooling systems are complex, which means cost estimates are frequently mistaken, misunderstood or misrepresented.
This complexity results from the complicated relationships of three key costs: installed equipment capital cost, annual operating and maintenance or O&M cost, and energy penalty cost. For most manufacturing processes, the first two costs can be fairly well defined and, to a certain extent, contractually guaranteed by the vendor/supplier. But the energy penalty cost is somewhat unique to power plant cooling systems because it reflects a direct performance link between the cooling system and the low-pressure
turbine-generator. Consequently, the potential for and the magnitude of an energy penalty cost can dictate cooling system design and operating changes that directly affect the capital and O&M costs. So in a competitive market, generating power in the most cost-effective manner depends upon a company’s ability to balance all three key costs and optimize the overall life-cycle cost of the cooling system.

What is the water footprint of the power plant supplying your data center?

Are you planning for water as a scarce resource affecting the cooling systems for your data center?

Here is what Google presented on water use at it's data center event a year ago.

Multiple Speakers Discuss Water Issues at Google’s Efficiency Data Center Summit

I have been blogging about water issues in the data center for a while, and have a category for tagging posts for “water.”