Monday, May 2, 2022

Stanford scientists find that the Delta Conveyance Project is a much worse idea than converting Diablo Canyon into a giant nuclear-powered desalination plant.


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.

1 comment:

  1. As a geologist / environmental scientist with over 20 years of experience, and who has worked at DOE Manhatten Era sites and new / next generation nuclear power plants, I can say the current American Nuclear Power Industry is safe and feasible. The Central Valley is optimal for next generation designs (travelling wave, liquid molten salt, and even current steam generation types). The power to source ratio is more than petroleum, coal, solar, or wind combined!! Once you really dive into the economics and consider overall safety, return to community, quality of life, and national security/energy independence its quite clear nuclear power should be considered a major tool in the "tool kit". Check out Bill Gates' website and ongoing efforts to relaunch a new generation of nuclear power projects among other companies out there fighting these uphill battles! California's Central Valley needs these types of projects and forward thinking and should move away from the status quo of environmental dogma and entrenched fear mongering in my opinion.