EDF’s Hunterston B nuclear power station is set to close at midday today (7 January 2022), after almost 46 years.
Construction of the site in North Ayrshire, Scotland, began in 1967 with first power from its Reactor 3 coming online on 6 February 1976, with a final cost of £143 million. Since then it has produced 297.4TWh of power.
It consists of two Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors (Reactors 3 and 4), as well as two turbine sets (Turbine Generators 7 and 8). Hunterston A, a neighbouring Magnox station, housed Reactors 1 and 2, and Turbine Generators 1-6.
Reactor 3 was taken offline in November 2021, and at 12pm today, Reactor 4 will be shut down by station director Paul Forrest.
“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,” said Forrest.
“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.”
There will now be a statutory outage at both reactors to ensure they are ready for defueling, wherein the spent nuclear fuel is removed and safely transported by rail to Sellafield for storage. This is expected to take three years at Hunterston B.
EDF has consulted with all of the staff on site, with the majority staying onboard to work on defueling, whilst some have been moved to other sites and others have opted to retire.
With the retirement of Hunterston B, the UK will have just six generating nuclear stations, providing 6.8GW of capacity. Three more stations will retire by March 2024, including EDF’s Hinkley Point B, which is due to close on 15 July 2022.
Last year, EDF announced that its Dungeness B nuclear power station in Kent would close seven years early due to “significant and ongoing technical challenges”.
All but one of the UK’s nuclear power stations will retire by March 2028, with EDF-owned Hinkley Point C, which is currently under construction, set to come online in June 2026. However, there have already been significant delays as well as rising costs.