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Hartlepool Power Station control room in the 1980s

Hartlepool Power Station hits the big 40

By EDF | Posted August 01, 2023

The future looks bright for Hartlepool Power Station – 40 years to the day after it connected to the UK electricity grid.

On August 1 1983 Reactor 1 was connected to the UK electricity grid for the very first time. Since then the station’s pair of reactors have supplied enough electricity to meet the needs of every home in the North East for more than 55 years. And that huge amount of output has saved the UK millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Mark Lees, Station Director, said: “During our lifetime this plant and its people have given an amazing service to the region. We have supplied home-grown zero-carbon power, decades before we realised how just important this is. Over the past 40 years we have provided high skilled, well-paid jobs to thousands of folks in Hartlepool and across Teesside, making us a key part of the area’s economy. And of course we have generated a staggering amount of electricity, certainly putting us near the top of the table of North East power stations.

“Our teams are rightly proud of the massive contribution they, and this station, have made to the nation and today we’ll all celebrate that achievement together.”

Hartlepool’s reactor 2 is undergoing a statutory outage. This work is carried out once every three years and gives teams the chance to inspect, upgrade and improve parts of the plant they cannot access when the reactors are generating.

Because Hartlepool had been due to stop generating in March 2024 the station had planned a smaller outage designed to keep the reactor running for another eight months. When EDF announced in March the station could continue generating until 2026, station engineers extended the works to ready the reactor, and associated plant, for a further two years of generation.

During this outage EDF is investing £30m in plant upgrades and improvements which will be worked on 24/7 during the two month long period. To complete the work EDF has contracted around 300 temporary specialist staff to carry out more than 12,000 tasks. And because the majority of these staff will be visitors to the region that also means a major boost to the local economy as they stay in local accommodation and eat and shop on Teesside.

Over recent months the site has also recruited more than 60 new members of staff for vital roles right across the station. A further push proved extremely popular with more than 275 people applying for just seven new apprenticeship positions.

Mark added: “I’m incredibly proud of everything this station has done for this region since 1983, but it’s the future that excites me. The works we’re undertaking will put us in a strong position for years of generation to come, we have a refreshed team with plenty of young blood, and we know politicians of all stripes want to see more nuclear in Hartlepool.

“This birthday is a good moment for us to reflect on all we’ve achieved and what the power station means to this community. But there are decades more work to be done here, so now we need to grasp the opportunities in front of us and deliver a bright future for nuclear for Hartlepool and the North East.”  

 Notes to Editors     

  • Hartlepool Power Station has two 550MW reactors. When the plant is at full power this is enough electricity to meet the needs of around 2m homes.
  • The first reactor synched to the grid on August 1 1983 the second on October 31 1984.
  • Hartlepool Power Station employs 530 staff and 200 full time contract partners, paying out around £40m a year in salaries.
  • Since it started generating electricity Hartlepool has generated 255 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. This has saved the UK 89.9m tonnes of CO2 emissions, when compared to similar levels of power that a combined cycle gas turbine would generate.
  • Part of the outage works includes replacing part of one of the steam driven turbines. This turbine is being replaced after about ten years of service and we estimate in that time it has rotated more than 14 billion times.
  • When EDF bought the UK fleet in 2009 Hartlepool was due to stop generating in 2014. In 2010 the company extended this to March 2019. In 2016, this was extended again until March 2024 and in March this year EDF pushed the end of generation date back to March 2026.
  • EDF operates five generating nuclear power stations which make a vital contribution to the country’s zero carbon electricity generation. Together they produce about 14% of demand, sustain 6,000 jobs directly, thousands more in the supply chain, and every year help the UK avoid more than 15m tonnes of CO2 emissions.  
  • Since acquisition of the UK nuclear fleet in 2009, EDF has invested £7bn and generated over 30% more zero carbon electricity than originally anticipated.

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