Nuclear Energy

Published on February 29th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


World’s Oldest Nuclear Power Plant Shuts Down Today

February 29th, 2012 by  

Today, in the UK, the world’s oldest nuclear power plant shut down. Actually, it did so just a few hours ago.

"An impression of the cooling towers of the proposed new nuclear build at oldbury. Impression made with the help of a photograph of cooling towers by Christopher Peterson,"

The British nuclear power plant, which had been running for 44 years, shut down at about 11:00 GMT (or 6:00 am EST) today. The area may not be without nuclear power for too long, though. Another nuclear power plant is planned for a site nearby — it is supposed to go up by 2025.

Do the residents care? Well, it seems they don’t have much choice in the matter.

“Some local residents who have lived in this quaint village for decades say they had no choice when the plant was first built in the 1960s and have little prospect of preventing a new station now, given that the Oldbury site has already been shortlisted for new nuclear plants by the government,” Reuters reports.

“A joint venture of two German utilities, E.ON and RWE, plans to build a new Oldbury nuclear plant more than six times the capacity of the current station by 2025, relying on a strong government drive in favour of nuclear power to help reduce carbon emissions.”

Residents are particularly opposed to the cooling towers that would be included in the proposed pressurized water reactors (PWR) the power plant is supposed to use, which would likely spoil the resident’s view of the surrounding landscape. But Horizon, the German joint venture behind the power plant, brushes the concern aside, noting that they’d just be about 15 meters (49 feet) higher than the existing reactor buildings. Oh, that’s all? (Sarcasm)

Photographer Christopher Peterson has created a couple of impressions of what the power plant would look like with the four cooling towers, above and below.

oldbury nuclear power plant

"An impression of the cooling towers of the proposed new nuclear build at oldbury. Impression made with the help of a photograph of cooling towers by Christopher Peterson, Edited with the gimp on opensuse linux (all open source software)."

“The project is early in the planning stages, and Horizon is still far away from applying for necessary planning and environmental permits from UK agencies and the local government, which will give Olbury-on-Severn residents a say,” Reuters reports.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • They are photoshopped (or something) in. These are the proposed cooling towers for the new power plant.

    • Bob_Wallace

      There are two pictures. The first is “as is”. In the second picture the cooling towers have been stretched upwards.

      Take a look at the ridge line on the left side of the towers.

      Ugly and out of place? Absolutely.

    • Mike Straub

      Ha! (at myself) Guess that was obvious. I guess the photo-editing did the trick. Got my attention so much I overlooked the obvious. Nice work all the way around once again, Zach and team.

  • rommel43

    Use all that space for a wind farm would be better

    • lukealization

      But sadly, I doubt you’d even fit a 50MW wind farm in that space. The size of these NPP’s were talking is in the multi-gigawatts.

      • Bob_Wallace


        But if you were do the math using the actual square footage of wind tower footings and compared that to the area used for these nuclear plants plus all the land used for mining and refining nuclear fuel then you might find that things change.

        • lukealization

          Actually, I don’t believe that’s a fair comparison at all.

          Let me state that I actually love wind power. It’s the second best form of energy generation we can hope to achieve (behind nuclear fusion), and I agree, NPP’s are dangerous at the best of times and should not be used at all.

          But, if your going to include the area used to mine and refine the uranium fuel for NPP’s, you should also include the area used to build and develop wind turbines.

          Also, you can’t simply include the area of the BASE of the turbine in the equation. That’s a gross underestimation of the area required to successfully run a wind farm. You MUST include the required distance to separate each wind turbine from each other. You can’t simply put 10 turbines directly in front of one and other and expect to get a ‘normal’ output.

          Area of Wind Farm = BASE of turbine + separation factor + construction facilities

          Area of NPP = Reactor + Containment & Operation Buildings + Waste Storage + Mining Facilities

          Despite my total support for wind power and my strong opposition to nuclear, you can’t ignore the fact that nuclear fission has the overwhelmingly highest energy density of any currently harnessable electricity source available to man.

          That might all change though once we get nuclear fusion running… NOW THAT is the single answer to ALL of the world’s energy issues.

          Clean, elegant, simple, extremely energy dense, and inherently safe.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, wind turbine footings take less than 2% of wind farm land. The other 98% remains usable for farming, grazing or wildlife.

            If you look at satellite pictures of wind turbines in agricultural areas you will see that they are generally installed along existing farm roads and the cropland is very minimally impacted. In grazing areas there is some road leveling between footings, but within a few months the grass has grown back and livestock are grazing.

            You have a somewhat valid point about the mining needed for turbine materials. But if we go there then we need to include the mining needed to produce reactor facilities as well. If you’ve ever been around a reactor then you have some idea of the tremendous amount of steel and concrete involved.

            (Although I don’t think you were talking about material mining. You were talking about the area needed for manufacturing. I doubt there’s much difference between wind and nuclear. All that pipe and wire, the reactor dome, the generator, the valves, controls, etc. for nuclear. It has to be manufactured off-site somewhere.)

            ” once we get nuclear fusion ” – it might just be a race between fusion and unicorn farts. Best we don’t drag our feet waiting for either to save our hindsides….

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    • Bob_Wallace

      Time for a new keyboard. Looks like the Cap Lock is stuck on the one you’re using.

      I’m sure you didn’t intend to shout at us as you posted your uninteresting tidbit….

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