Carbon dioxide-free nuclear power has an important role in mitigating climate change. Under normal conditions, nuclear power production does not have any impacts on human health or the environment.
Nuclear power’s most significant environmental impacts are related to nuclear safety, nuclear waste management, and the impacts the cooling waters have on water systems.
The most significant environmental impact of a nuclear power plant during operation is the increase in the water temperature in the immediate vicinity of the plant when seawater is used for cooling. In 2014, the Loviisa power plant’s thermal load on the sea was 15.4 TWh. Based on temperature measurements, the cooling water has increased the temperature of the surface water by 1-2 degrees within a 1-2 kilometre radius of the cooling water’s discharge location.
The thermal load on the sea could be reduced by making the nuclear power plant a combined heat and power plant. This would increase the power plant’s energy efficiency by several tens of per cents. So far, this type of solution has not been realised in any country on a large scale.