A recent study from Stanford scientists has caused some policy makers, including Governor Newsom, to reconsider the timeline for closing the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, California's last operating nuclear plant.
Among the future visions for Diablo Canyon plant evaluated in the study was using it as a mega-scale desalination facility. Mega-scale nuclear-powered desalination! I can see my environmentalist friends recoiling in horror at the idea. I am not persuaded it is a good idea either, but the Stanford team clearly demonstrated that it is far from the worse idea in California water.
Here is the second highlighted finding in the Executive Summary
Using Diablo Canyon as a power source for desalination could substantially augment fresh water supplies to the state as a whole and to critically overdrafted basins regions such as the Central Valley, producing fresh water volumes equal to or substantially exceeding those of the proposed Delta Conveyance Project—but at significantly lower investment cost
Here are some quotes from the desalination chapter,
One of the intermediate sized Diablo Canyon-powered desalination options would produce significantly more fresh water than the highest estimate of the net yield from the proposed Delta Conveyance Project at less than half of the investment cost.
It is also notable that the projected capital cost of the Delta Conveyance Project, at $15.9 Billion, is more than twice the capital cost of the Diablo Canyon Desalination Option 2, discussed below, which, at a capital cost of approximately $6.5 Billion, yields up to seven times the amount as the DCP.
This comparison really caught my attention because pre-Covid I had given one or two talks on the Delta Conveyance Project where I started by comparing the State Water Project and Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant with a series of multiple-choice questions. In a future post (yes I am aware I have not posted here in nearly a year), I will dust off that quiz and add some content from the Stanford report.