Giamba Bussi and Paul Whitehead published a new study of the potential consequences of drought and low flows for power generation and river ecology. Power plants often use river waters for cooling purposes and can be sensitive to droughts and low flows. Water quality is also a concern, due to algal blooms and sediment loads that might clog filters.
They coupled INCA with a climate model to assess the possible impacts of droughts on river flow and water quality and the potential consequences for power plant operation, using the River Trent (UK) as a case study. Their results suggest a significant decrease in future flows and an increase in phosphorus concentrations, potentially enhancing algal production.
These findings show that power plant operators should expect more stress in the future due to reduced cooling water availability and decreasing upstream water quality. This issue might have serious consequences for energy security.