Global warming: A result of greenhouse gas emissions or of heat-up of the surroundings by power plants?

Ron Zevenhoven*, Asfaw Beyene

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper (not published)peer-review

Abstract

The evidence on global climate change, and that these changes are caused primarily by rising levels of greenhouse gase in the atmosphere, is now perceived as fairly conclusive. The changes are generally attributed to the so-called enhanced greenhouse effect, a phenomenon resulting from higher levels of trapped thermal infra-red radiation (TIR) from earth to space by the increasing concentration of gases such as CO2. Much of these gases originate from power plants and fossil fuel combustion. Thus, the impact of greenhouse gases on climate change is very well debated if not understood. However, the fate of vast amounts of waste heat rejected into the local environment has evaded serious scholarly research. While a typical condensing coal-fired power plant emits ∼1 kg of CO2 per kWh electricity generated, it also puts about twice the amount of this useful energy into the surrounding environment as low grade heat. For nuclear (fission) energy the waste heat release is similar or even higher despite no rejection of greenhouse gases. This paper attempts to evaluate the impact of waste heat rejection on the surrounding as a combined model with greenhouse gas emissions using Finland and California, USA, as case examples. It is shown that the heating effect of waste heat release from power production is ∼ 40% of the simultaneously occuring radiative forcing heating effect. More calculations and sensitivity to parameters like wind speed are introduced. The regional variations are also assessed based on the two case scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Pages987-994
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2009
MoE publication typeO2 Other
Event22nd International Conference on Efficiency, Cost, Optimization, Simulation and Environmental Impact of Energy Systems, ECOS 2009 - Foz du Iguacu, Parana, Brazil
Duration: 30 Aug 20093 Sep 2009

Conference

Conference22nd International Conference on Efficiency, Cost, Optimization, Simulation and Environmental Impact of Energy Systems, ECOS 2009
Country/TerritoryBrazil
CityFoz du Iguacu, Parana
Period30/08/0903/09/09

Keywords

  • Global warming
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Thermal power plant
  • Waste heat

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