Hydro beats nuclear and coal, beats oil and gas

Feb 05, 2013

Researchers in Italy and the UK have reviewed the economic, social and environmental impact of hydro, coal, oil, gas and nuclear power. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but of these conventional electricity generation technologies, hydroelectric power appears to be the most sustainable and acceptable environmentally and economically. Nuclear and coal run a close second place but oil or gas-fired power stations are revealed to be the worst choice when considering the various factors overall.

Giorgio Locatelli of the University of Lincoln and Mauro Mancini of Milan Polytechnic explain that the research literature has offered several studies of the economics of power plants but these are commonly based on cash flow considerations whereas sustainability factors, such as environmental and social considerations have moved higher up the agenda when investment in this area of technology is considered.

Writing in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research, the team explains that as for electricity grows, new power plants must be built. However, the "green" options of solar, wind, tidal and other newer forms of electricity generation simply cannot maintain pace with demand. "Worldwide population growth combined with growing requires the construction of more power plants," the team says. , , energy security, ever-changing fossil fuel prices and supply, as well as the of power plant location must now be considered as part of the multitude of considerations in building new infrastructure. Moreover, investors must now consider sustainability.

The team has considered various factors: fuel supply security, environmental impact, public acceptance, volatility of fuel price, risk of severe accident and emergency planning zone (EPZ) consideration - in assessing each classification of power generation. Each factor carries a certain weight in their calculations of which power source is most sustainable overall. These factors are in the broad sense beyond the control of investor or users.

Given that many regions do not have the potential to use hydroelectric power generation, nuclear and coal-fired are the next obvious choice, but each has many pros and many cons. The next stage in their research will be to provide a balanced review of each of these with a view to offering a possibly definitive answer on sustainability of power generation.

Explore further: Multifold challenges for districts level retrofitting

More information: "Sustainability in the power plant choice" in Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, 2013, 7, 209-227.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

European power plants boosting coal use

Apr 24, 2008

High oil and natural gas prices, coupled with increased demand, are driving Europe's return to coal-fired power plants, an industry official says.

How sustainable is nuclear power for the UK?

Dec 08, 2011

The research into the sustainability of nuclear and other electricity options in the UK shows that nuclear power could make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. However, that would require ...

Replacing coal with natural gas would reduce warming: study

Jul 18, 2012

A debate has raged in the past couple of years as to whether natural gas is better or worse overall than coal and oil from a global warming perspective. The back- and-forth findings have been due to the timelines taken into ...

Low-carbon technologies 'no quick-fix', say researchers

Feb 15, 2012

Could replacing coal-fired electricity plants with generators fueled by natural gas bring global warming to a halt in this century? What about rapid construction of massive numbers of solar or wind farms, ...

Recommended for you

The state of shale

9 hours ago

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Che ...

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

Dec 18, 2014

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

Dec 18, 2014

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

Cook farm waste into energy

Dec 17, 2014

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dschlink
not rated yet Feb 05, 2013
Unfortunately, at least in the USA, there are very few sites that have not been developed. Also, in many cases, smaller hydro plants are being removed to improve fisheries.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.