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Published on August 16th, 2014 | by Jake Richardson


4 Nuclear Power Plants Shut Down; Wind Power Steps In

August 16th, 2014 by  

Wind power in the UK is helping to fill the void left by the shuttering of four nuclear reactors. One reactor was found with a defect on its boiler spine, so EDF Energy decided to shut it down, along with three others. It is expected they will be offline for about two months. (EDF is a French utility responsible for managing many nuclear reactors. It stands for Electricity de France.)


The reactor with the potential boiler spine issue is at Heysham-1 plant in Lancashire. Another was shut down at Heysham as well. The remaining two that were taken offline are at Hartlepool. The UK energy supply should not suffer from the nuclear shut downs.

“Demand is low at this time of year, and a lot of wind power is being generated right now,” explained National Grid. In fact, the UK just set a new summer record for wind power generation, “According to figures from trade association RenewableUK, wind reached its maximum output at 10pm on Sunday night, delivering an average of  5.0GW of power over the hour and meeting 17 per cent of national demand.”

While this reactor shut down might sound alarming, it should be stressed that no injuries or radioactive releases have been reported. The four reactors will be investigated for potential problems while they are offline. Each was commissioned in 1983, and is scheduled to be taken out of service in about five years.

Given what occurred at Fukushima, it seems prudent to address any potential problems with these older nuclear reactors.  Gen 2 reactors came online in the 1960s up until the late 1990s. This type of reactor depends upon active safety systems, but potential human and mechanical failure can result.

One of the small ironies about wind power filling in somewhat for nuclear reactors is that wind is criticized for being intermittent.

This is a very minor point, but there seems to be some slight discrepancies in the reporting about the reactor shut downs. The UK-based Financial Times reported that all four were shut down.  The UK-based Guardian say they were to be shut down. The New York Times reported that one was shut down in June, and that it had recently been decided by EDF to shut down three more.

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