Weekly News Review
19 January 2024
EDF has confirmed that six of the UK’s nine nuclear reactors are currently offline with four of these due to unplanned maintenance. A steam valve failure at Heysham 1 last week led to the shutdown of both reactors as well as those at Hartlepool in order to conduct safety inspections. There is also planned maintenance at Torness and Heysham 2 leaving only one reactor online at each power station.
As a result of the outages, nuclear generation in the UK has fallen to 2.5GW this week, less than half of the maximum capacity of 6GW. EDF expects the planned shutdown at Heysham 2 to finish this week with Torness due to come back online next week. The unplanned shutdowns at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool are currently expected to last until the end of the month.
An EDF spokesperson said: “Following the failure of part of a steam valve in the Heysham 1 boiler pipework, EDF has taken a proactive decision to temporarily take the station offline, as well as its ‘sister station’ at Hartlepool that has the same valve design. This enables engineers to safely conduct inspections and for us to find a solution with the valve manufacturers.”
A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “This is not unusual – regular periods of maintenance and inspections are entirely in line with our management of nuclear power and this can occasionally overlap with planned outages, with a proportion of power unavailable for short periods of time.”
“Nuclear forms only part of the UK’s secure and diverse energy mix, providing approximately 15% of the UK’s electricity. Even during these periods, nuclear continues to produce enough power to around 11 million homes. Last week we set out a roadmap on how we will quadruple our supply of clean and reliable nuclear power by 2050.”
EDF also announced last week that they plan to extend the life of four of the UK’s five nuclear power stations. Torness, Hartlepool and Heysham 1 and 2 all have advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGR) and would require regulatory approval. Hartlepool and Heysham 1 are currently due to close in March 2026 having already been extended last year, whereas Heysham 2 and Torness are due to stay operational until March 2028.
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