Old Nuclear stations near the end of their lives

Boiler tube cracks have continued to grow at the old nuclear stations, already well overdue for replacement. They have served the country for much more than their original design lifetimes and have still not been replaced. Our reliance on them is a sorry reflection of our energy policy over the last decade. New stations should now be coming on-stream, but we haven't even got as far as putting in planning applications.

Hunterston B and Hinckley Point B were shut down yesterday (16 Oct 06) because of ageing boiler tubes. British Energy says that only one of its eight nuclear plants (Torness) is working at full output. Hartlepool, Dungeness B, the two Heysham plants and Sizewell B have either stopped or are working at well below capacity because of age-related problems.

Hinckley Point B and Hunterston B are scheduled for closure in 2008.

Tony Blair was talking about the importance of energy security on the same day. He spoke of the new gas pipeline from Norway. However, the news of the shutdowns cast a damper on the proceedings.

The market responded by increasing the price of baseload electricity from 4.3p to 4.5p per kWh.

Nigel Deacon, habitat21 website. 17 Oct 06.

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