Hunterston B plant closes with Unit B2 shutdown

January 10, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Hunterston B worker in the Charge Hall, November 2021. (Photo: EDF Energy)

The Hunterston B nuclear power plant has ended its nearly 46 years of zero-carbon electricity generation for Scotland with the shutdown of Unit B2. The 495-MWe advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR), which began commercial operation in March 1977, was taken off line on January 7. The station’s companion unit, the 490-MWe AGR B1, was shut down last November.

Under an agreement with the U.K. government signed on June 23, 2021, EDF Energy, owner and operator of Britain’s power reactor fleet, is responsible for defueling all seven of the U.K.’s AGR nuclear stations over this decade. (The agreement does not include Sizewell B, which houses a 1,098-MWe pressurized water reactor slated to continue operating until at least 2035, or Hinkley Point C, which is currently under construction.) EDF expects the defueling of the AGR facilities to take from three-and-a-half to five years.

Scheduled to follow Hunterston B into the defueling phase by July of this year is the two-unit Hinkley Point B plant in Somerset, England.

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News January through March

January 7, 2022, 10:35AMNuclear News

This is the second of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the January-March time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

  • Click here to see the first article in the series.

First Hunterston reactor shuttered

December 3, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Hunterston B nuclear power station in 2018. (Photo: Thomas Nugent/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Unit B1 at Scotland’s two-unit Hunterston B nuclear power plant was taken off line for good on November 26 after nearly 46 years of operation. A 490-MWe advanced gas-cooled reactor, the unit entered commercial operation in June 1976. Its companion AGR, Unit B2, which entered operation in March 1977, is scheduled for retirement in January.

Study: New U.K. nuclear likely to be lower carbon source than solar or wind

November 30, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A recent study of life cycle carbon emissions at the United Kingdom’s Hinkley Point C nuclear plant finds that the facility, now under construction in Somerset, England, is likely to produce less CO2 over its lifetime than either solar or wind power.

According to the 70-page analysis—prepared by environmental consultancy Ricardo Energy & Environment for NNB Generation Company HPC Limited, the holding company for the Hinkley Point project—lifetime emissions from Hinkley Point C are likely to be about 5.5g CO2e per kWh. That amount also holds for the proposed Sizewell C plant, the study concludes. (The two 1,630-MWe EPRs at Hinkley Point C are currently scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2026 and 2027.)

EDF and U.K.’s Nuclear AMRC step up partnership

May 14, 2021, 12:07PMNuclear News
“Big Carl,” the world’s largest land-based crane, lifts the second of three prefabricated steel rings that will form the reinforced cylinder around the nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point C from its bunker to a lay-down area in late April. (Photo: EDF)

EDF has signed a new membership agreement with the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to drive innovation in low-carbon power generation and support U.K. manufacturers, the University of Sheffield–based center announced recently.

Delay, cost increase announced for U.K. nuclear project

January 27, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Perspex screens and reduced seating capacity in the Hinkley Point canteens help protect the workforce during breaks, EDF Energy said. Photo: EDF Energy

The unfortunate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on nuclear new-build projects haven’t stopped with Vogtle: EDF Energy this morning reported that the expected startup date for Unit 1 at its Hinkley Point C site is being pushed from late 2025 to June 2026.

In addition, the project’s completion costs are now estimated to be in the range of £22 billion to £23 billion (about $30.2 billion to $31.5 billion), some £500 million (about $686 million) more than the 2019 estimate, EDF said, adding the caveat that these revisions assume an ability to begin a return to normal site conditions by the second quarter of 2021.

Nuclear scores point in U.K. green plan

December 1, 2020, 12:03PMNuclear News

The United Kingdom, the first of the world’s major economies to adopt a legally binding commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, has released a blueprint to help realize that goal—one that includes a substantial role for nuclear energy

The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution will mobilize a total of £12 billion (about $16 billion) of government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the United Kingdom and spur over three times as much private sector investment by 2030, according to the UK government on November 18.

In addition to nuclear, offshore wind, hydrogen production, carbon capture, and vehicle electrification are also earmarked for significant investment in the 38-page document.

Hinkley Point B to be retired earlier than planned

November 30, 2020, 9:30AMNuclear News

Hinkley Point B, in Somerset, England. Photo: EDF Energy

EDF Energy has made a “proactive decision” to move Britain’s Hinkley Point B power station into its defueling phase no later than July 15, 2022—some eight months earlier than previously scheduled—the company announced on November 19.

The two-unit plant, located in Somerset, England, began generating electricity in 1976 and has since produced more than 300 TWh of power, enough to meet the electricity requirements of every home in the United Kingdom for three years, according to EDF.

U.K. trade group debuts blueprint for lowering nuclear construction costs

September 3, 2020, 9:29AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), the trade group for the United Kingdom’s civil nuclear industry, unveiled a new report yesterday that sets out a framework for cutting the cost of building new nuclear power plants in Britain.

The 27-page report, Nuclear Sector Deal: Nuclear New Build Cost Reduction, is available online.

EDF fined millions for disseminating misleading information about U.K. nuclear project

August 5, 2020, 3:21PMNuclear News

The Enforcement Committee of the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) has imposed a fine of €5 million (about $5.9 million) on Électricitéde France for providing false information about the Hinkley Point C new-build nuclear project in the United Kingdom. The committee has also imposed a €50,000 (about $59,000) fine on EDF’s former chairman and chief executive officer, Henri Proglio. According to a July 30 statement from the AMF, the false information was spread via an October 8, 2014, news release.

The AMF is described on its website as an independent public authority that regulates the French financial marketplace and its participants.

New design center supports construction of Hinkley Point C

July 21, 2020, 9:38AMNuclear News

UK EPR Design Centre, Bristol, England. Image: EDF Energy

EDF Energy has opened a new engineering design facility in Bristol, England, to support the next phase of construction at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, the company announced on July 14. The UK EPR Design Centre at Aztec West brings together nuclear designers and engineers from EDF and British engineering partners and suppliers, including Framatome UK, Atkins, Jacobs, Assystem, Anotech, and Vulcain, the announcement said.

More nuclear a good choice for U.K., but costs must fall, report says

June 23, 2020, 3:18PMNuclear News

A report published last week by Energy Systems Catapult, a U.K.-based clean energy nonprofit, concludes that adding double-digit gigawatts of new nuclear is a “low-regrets option” for the United Kingdom as it strives to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. (Legislation establishing the 2050 target date was signed in June of last year, making the United Kingdom the first of the world’s major economic powers to take that step.) The report also stresses, however, that costs for new nuclear must decrease significantly for the technology to meet its potential.