Zero-carbon electricity generation ends at Hunterston B
Electricity generation at one of the UK’s most productive nuclear power stations, Hunterston B, in North Ayrshire, is ending after almost 46 years.
Since the station came online in 1976 it has produced enough zero-carbon electricity to power every home in Scotland for nearly 31 years. The carbon avoided by the station, when compared to gas generation, is like taking every car off Scotland’s roads for 19 years.
Reactor 4 at the EDF-run site will be shut down by Station Director, Paul Forrest, at midday on 7 January 2022; 45 years, and 11 months after the station started producing electricity.
Station Director, Paul Forrest, said: “The contribution Hunterston B power station has made to this country cannot be underestimated. As well as providing stable, well paid employment for thousands of people in the North Ayrshire area, it has produced almost 300TWh of zero-carbon electricity, enough to power every home in Scotland for 31 years.
“It was originally thought Hunterston B would run for 25 years but investment in the plant and the people who work here mean we’ve been able to safely extend that to 46 years.
“This is an incredible achievement and everyone here is proud of what the station has accomplished. We will pause to reflect the end of generation but we are looking forward to the future. We don’t just switch off the power station, close the gates and walk away. It will take time to defuel and decommission the site and we will continue to need skilled people to do this.”
EDF has been consulting with staff about their futures for the past two years. The majority of staff indicated they would like to continue working at Hunterston B. Every member of staff who said they wanted to stay has been successful in securing a role through defueling.
Some staff have been supported to move to other EDF sites and some have opted to retire.
The station’s other unit, Reactor 3, was taken off line in November 2021. Its shutdown was carried out by the station’s experienced operations staff along with Howard Weetman who worked at the station for 23 years and was the control room supervisor on the day the power station first synchronised to the grid.
Howard, who still lives near the station, in West Kilbride, said: “To come back and actually see the reactor come off for the final time feels strange and slightly sad because it has been an extremely good engineering achievement. It has gone 46 years, so congratulations to everyone involved. It is a shame it has finished but it has done well.”
Both reactors will now undergo a statutory outage to make sure they are ready for defueling. Defueling is when all the nuclear fuel is removed from the reactors and safely transported by rail to Sellafield for storage. It is expected that defueling at Hunterston B will take around three years.
Under the terms of a contract agreed with UK Government in June 2021, EDF will carry out defueling at all seven of the UK’s Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) stations before the sites are transferred to the NDA for its subsidiary Magnox to continue with decommissioning.
For more information contact:
Fiona McCall – Senior External Affairs Manager – firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call EDF’s media line on 01452 652233 and a member of the team will respond.
Notes to editors:
- On 27 August 2020, EDF announced that Hunterston B power station would end generation by 7 January 2021 at the latest.
- In September EDF provided this update on the position of the UK nuclear fleet.
- The UK Fuel Mix disclosure information, published by Government Department BEIS, recognises electricity from wind, solar and nuclear fuel produces zero carbon dioxide emissions at the point of generation.
About Hunterston B:
- Hunterston B was built by the Nuclear Power Group Ltd, assisted by nine sub-contracting companies. Construction started in 1967 with a final construction cost of £143m.
- Reactor 3 came online for the first time on 6 Feb 1976.
- The station had four times the generating capacity of the neighbouring Magnox station, Hunterston A, and consisted of two Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (AGRs) (Reactors 3&4) and two turbine sets (Turbine Generators 7&8). Reactors 1&2 and Turbine Generators 1-6 were housed at Hunterston A.
- First Station Director: Derek Evans.
- The station was officially opened in 1980 by Scottish industrialist, Sir Montague Finnieston.
- Over its generating life the station has produced 297.4TWh of zero-carbon electricity (second only to Hinkley Point B). This is the equivalent to powering:
- All of Scotland’s homes for 31 years
- Every home in Ayrshire for 444 years
- Every home in North Ayrshire for 1,190 years.
- The station has avoided 103.4m tonnes of CO2 when compared to gas generation. This is like taking all of the cars off of Scotland’s roads for 19 years.
- The station employs around 500 staff and 250 contractors and contributes around £54m a year to the North Ayrshire economy.