Generation ends at Hinkley Point B nuclear power station after more than four decades

EDF has confirmed that generation has been switched off at the second and final reactor at Hinkley Point B power station in Somerset as planned, sparking further debate about the UK Government’s plans to close the nuclear generation gap.

Generation ends at Hinkley Point B nuclear power station after more than four decades

Image: EDF

The power plant, which had been operating for more than 46 years, had a nameplate generation capacity of 1,310MW, spread across two units. The second of these units is ceasing generation today (1 August).

“Hinkley Point B has delivered its purpose very well, serving the nation with zero-carbon power for 15 years longer than originally planned,” EDF stated in June as it confirmed that decision. “Looking ahead, our collective focus will be on ensuring the 5500 MWe of remaining nuclear capacity supports the UK over the next few years.”

EDF will now commence the defueling process at the plant, which it estimates will take between three and four years. This involves removing remaining fuel and safely storing it ahead of the plant’s decommissioning phase.

During its working lifetime, Hinkley Point B generated around 311 TWh of electricity, with station director Mike Davies stating that he and his team are “justifiably proud” of their work at the site.

The closure came just a few weeks behind schedule. It means that the share of nuclear in the UK’s generation mix will drop. The proportion stood at 20% in 2021, but fell to 16% in January with the closure of Hunterston B. Other energy sources – most likely gas – will be needed to make up the shortfall this winter, as the Government’s promised new nuclear capacity will take years to build across large and smaller plants. Some analysts believe the closure of Hinkley Point B will push up prices for energy consumers in the short-term.

Trade body the Nuclear Industry Association has described Hinkley Point B as a “bastion of energy security” and its closure “a stark reminder that we urgently need to replace our existing capacity”.

Future plans for EDF 

EDF is currently overseeing construction at 3,260 MW Hinkley Point C, where ground was broken in 2016 and the first reactor is now due to come online in 2027. It is also pushing ahead as the primary funder of Sizewell C, which was granted development consent in July despite questions remaining about the plant’s nature and water impact, on the grounds of energy security.

“Now we have a new job and a huge amount of interesting work to do,” Davies added. “ I’m excited for Somerset that Hinkley Point C is taking shape on our horizon, but I also know that, thanks to Hinkley Point B and everything it’s achieved, our colleagues have got very big boots to fill.”

Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C are progressing as the company faces complete nationalisation. The French Government had controlled an 84% stake in EDF in 2021 and is looking at increasing this to 100% by purchasing the remaining 16%.

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Comments (2)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    There is, in my mind at least, absolutely no doubt that at the very least. the whole of our electricity baseload should be nuclear.
    Renewables are not cheap, and suffer from the fundamental characteristic of lying completely outside our control and ability to generate, at capacity, when needed. They are in fact a “grab it when you cab get it” power source. Politicians–take note!!!
    The replacement of Hinkley B should have been on the blocks a decade or more ago.
    But then, I was in the industry when HM the Queen opened Calder Hall and the nuclear future looked a little different!!!
    Richard Phillips

  2. Rob Heap says:

    What is the predicted full lifecycle carbon footprint of Hinckley Point B?

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