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Iran’s Nuclear Power Output Curbed By Hot Seawater

  • Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant has curbed its power generation.
  • Seawater temperatures are too high to cool the reactors at Bushehr.
  • Iran’s issues with nuclear power generation are similar to those of France.

Iran’s only nuclear power plant at Bushehr has limited its power generation as the seawater in the Persian Gulf is too warm to cool reactors, in a setback for the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, which is also subject to negotiations with world powers. 

The 2015 nuclear deal – from which former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018 – was negotiated over concerns that Iran could pursue nuclear weapons with its uranium-enrichment activities.  

Currently, Iran and the United States are indirectly negotiating – via the mediation of the European Union – a return to the so-called nuclear deal, which could ultimately lead to the lifting of the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil industry and exports.  

While negotiators are still discussing details of sticking points in a final draft of a possible agreement, Iran’s nuclear power generation is faltering because of very high temperatures of the seawater in the Gulf. 

According to Mohammad Eslami, Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), water temperatures have exceeded 35 degrees Celsius (95 F) this summer, the official said in an interview with a local news agency carried by Bloomberg.

To compare, the average annual temperature of the seawater in the Gulf is around 26 degrees Celsius, or 79 F.  

Iran’s issues with nuclear power generation are similar to those of France, which has seen the consequences of lower nuclear power output this year amid an energy crisis in Europe. 

In France, where nuclear power generation accounts for around 70 percent of the electricity mix, utility giant EDF warned early this summer that nuclear power generation would be reduced as high temperatures of rivers Rhone and Garonne make them too hot to cool reactors.    

Early this month, authorities allowed five nuclear power plants in France to continue operations and discharge hot water in rivers even during another heatwave as the country looks to keep its electricity generation stable and conserve natural gas for the coming winter. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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