March 28, 2013

Bridge to the Future – field trip to Dürnrohr power plant

When Austrian population decided Nov. 1978 in a national referendum that nuclear energy should not be produced within the territory of Austria, a milestone was set in energy politics, but energy demand was still overwhelming. A substitute for the production of electricity was needed and within eight years the coal-fired power plant in Dürnrohr started its operations, just a few kilometers away from the nuclear reactor Zwentendorf, which never started its work.

You might ask yourself if it was a good decision to change from the CO2 emission-free nuclear energy to the coal-fired power plant, in a country where the public is strongly aware of the negative environmental impacts of fossil fuel consumption. A good reason for ETIA-students to make a trip to the plant to get a practical insight into how it actually works. The timing of the excursion, March 15th was perfect, as we just finished our lectures on pollution control the day before and were thus able to combine our theoretical knowledge with this practical experience, enhancing our understanding for the upcoming exam and future careers. As it turns out, the power plant Dürnrohr produces more efficiently than the average Western German coal-fired power plant and as there is currently no long-term solution for spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors we concluded that the Austrian population made a wise decision at that time.

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