Hinkley Point B given the go-ahead to restart low carbon power generation
EDF has invested £3m over the past year upgrading the Somerset plant while detailed assessments have been completed on the graphite in the nuclear reactors.
Today (March 17) the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has given the green light to bring the plant back online.
Peter Evans, Station Director of Hinkley Point B, said: “Our core purpose at Hinkley Point B is helping Britain achieve net zero and we have been doing this since long before the term net zero arrived.
“The approval to restart power generation, which has come after many months of physical works and technical assessments of our site, plant and nuclear reactors, is really positive news.
“When I look back at the last 12 months it is incredible to think we have delivered a major inspection and maintenance programme and a thorough justification to restart the nuclear reactors, all as we grappled with a pandemic which has fundamentally changed the way we work.
“But we’ve done the work, proved our case and I’m thrilled that we can get back online and once again do what we do best.”
EDF took Hinkley Point B offline last year for detailed assessments of the nuclear reactors’ graphite cores. Detailed analysis by specialist EDF teams revealed that the graphite was in exactly the condition the company had forecast. Last autumn the ONR’s Chief Inspector noted the number of cracks in one of the reactors’ graphite was ‘lower than expected’.
The company plans to run Hinkley’s two reactors for six months, pause for further inspections and, subject to ONR approval, generate power for a second six month period.
It’s expected the 12 months of operation will generate eight terrawatt hours of electricity, enough to power 2m homes for a year.
Last November EDF announced that Hinkley Point B would operate no later than July 2022 before moving into the defuelling phase. This is expected to take a few years to complete and enable continued employment for many people at the station.
Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said: “Hinkley Point B has been part of the fabric of our community for decades so I'm delighted to see the station given permission to return to power. I would specifically like to thank the whole workforce at Hinkley who have clearly worked so hard during these extraordinary times to return this critical part of the UK's infrastructure to operation. “There's much to celebrate at Hinkley Point B and I look forward to doing so in person as soon as I'm able.”
Notes to Editors:
- Hinkley Point B is one of seven nuclear Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGR) that, whatever the weather conditions, have reliably provided around 20% of the country’s power supply over the last four decades.
- Hinkley Point B started generating in 1976. In 2012 the estimated end of generation was extended to 2023, with a +/- 2 years proviso. Since then the station has been the most productive UK nuclear power station, generating enough electricity to meet the needs of every home in the UK for three years and helped avoid the emission of more than 100m tonnes of CO2.
- Reactor 4 was taken offline on February 21, 2020, for a series of planned inspections of the graphite core. Reactor 3 came offline on June 8, 2020, for the same reason. The results of the inspections were well within EDF’s expectations.
- Hinkley Point B has around 500 staff and 250 contractors working on site.
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