Climate Change: Assessment of the Vulnerability of Nuclear Power Plants and Approaches for their Adaptation

Climate change will create specific risks and challenges for nuclear power plants and the electricity system as a whole. Extreme weather events caused by climate change – such as floods, storms, heat waves and droughts – have already affected the operation of nuclear power plants. Any increase in the temperature of the water used to cool nuclear power plants can also lead to reductions in their power output due to decreasing thermal efficiency.

This report sets out the adaptation strategies that can be effectively implemented to improve the resilience of existing plants as well as any new installations. The costs of adaptation to climate change can vary significantly depending on the type of reactor, the climate change issues affecting them, as well as the applicable regulations and standards. However, while these adaptation costs can, in some cases, be significant, the costs of inaction – both directly at the plant level and indirectly for the electricity system – are likely to be even higher.