13 Apr 21
Hunterston B 

Hunterston B power station granted permission for final period of generation

Hunterston B power station
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Hunterston B Station Director, Paul Forrest, said: “I welcome the ONR’s decision to grant permission for a final period of generation for both of Hunterston B’s reactors.

We have carried out the most detailed investigation ever on this kind of reactor and the approved safety case has been subject to extensive scrutiny and testing, by EDF and independently. We have been able to demonstrate that even in the most extreme conditions our reactors will safely shutdown, including in the event of an earthquake larger than ever experienced in the UK.

Since Hunterston B came online 45 years ago it has generated enough low carbon electricity to power all of Scotland’s homes for 31 years and has been an integral part of the North Ayrshire community supporting the employment of thousands of people.

I am looking forward to a safe and successful final period of generation for the station before we move into the defuelling stage of its life.”

Notes to editors:

  • You can read about the ONR's decision here.
  • Hunterston B is one of a fleet of seven Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGR) around the coast of Britain that, whatever the weather conditions, have reliably provided around 15% of the country’s power supply over the last three decades. 
  • On 27 August 2020, EDF announced that generation at Hunterston B would end by 7 January 2022.
  • In 2020 (August - Reactor 3, September - Reactor 4) ONR granted permission for a return to service for a run of approximately six months for each reactor following a rigorous independent assessment.
  • Both reactors had safe, continuous runs during which time the power station generated enough low carbon electricity to power more than 1 million homes.
  • On 12 April 2021, the regulator granted permission for a final run of approximately six months for each reactor.
  • Hunterston B started generating in 1976. When EDF acquired the power station it was expected to end generation in 2016. In 2012, EDF announced that the estimated end of generation would be extended to 2023, with a +/- 2 years proviso.
  • Since it started generating low carbon electricity Hunterston B power station has produced enough electricity to power all of Scotland’s homes for 31 years (Lifetime output enough to power 77.9 million homes. Scotland has an estimated 2.5m homes.)
  • Scottish Government figures published in June 2020 show that greenhouse gas emissions rose and more electricity was generated by gas-fired power while Hunterston B power station was offline: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-greenhouse-gas-emissions-2018/.
  • Hunterston B has around 500 staff and 250 contractors working on site and an annual wage bill of £40m. The station contributes £54m to the North Ayrshire area each year.
  • All seven of the UK’s AGR reactors have graphite cores. EDF has invested more than £200million over the past seven years in to understand how this graphite will change over time and provide assurance of its safety in both normal and extreme circumstances. You can find out more about graphite here. Information is also available on the ONR website.

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