Hinkley Point B Nuclear Power Station
|Hinkley Point B nuclear power station|
Hinkley Point B seen from the beach
|Location||Somerset, South West England|
|Decommission date||Expected 2023|
|Owner(s)||Central Electricity Generating Board
|Nuclear power station|
|Reactor type||Advanced gas cooled reactor|
|Reactor supplier||The Nuclear Power Group|
|Units operational||2 x 625 MWe (Operating at ~490 MWe  )|
|Nameplate capacity||1250 MWe|
|grid reference ST211460|
The construction of Hinkley Point B, which was undertaken by a consortium known as The Nuclear Power Group (TNPG), started in 1967. The reactors were supplied by TNPG and the turbines by GEC. Hinkley Point B is an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) which was designed to generate 1250 MW of electricity (MWe).
In March 1971 it was announced that there would be a six-month delay in completion due to problems with the insulation of the concrete pressure vessel. In place of the stainless steel mesh and foil insulation that had been used on previous Magnox stations, a fibrous type of insulation supplied by Delaney Gallay, part of the Lindustries Group, had been used for the first time. During pre-operational trials, before the nuclear fuel was loaded, high levels of acoustic vibration in the gas circuit were found to be damaging the insulation tiles, and the retention plates which held the insulation in place had to be redesigned and modified within the reactor.
During further pre-operational testing, severe vibration of the fuel channel gags was detected. The fuel channel gags are valves which are gradually closed to restrict the flow of gas through a fuel channel in order to maintain the channel gas outlet temperature as the nuclear fuel is used up. Modifications to produce a fluidically generated bias force to stop the gags vibrating took time to design, test and implement, delaying the planned start up date. The station began generating electricity on 5 February 1976.
It was taken over by Nuclear Electric as part of the privatisation of the UK Electricity Supply Industry in 1989, though remaining in public ownership at that time. In 1996, the AGR and PWR assets of Nuclear Electric and Scottish Nuclear were privatised as part of British Energy.
In 2006 the station's reactors were closed for testing microscopic defects that had been found in similar reactors. While it was implied in the media that these were major holes gushing steam, had this been the case the loss of pressure would lead to an automatic shut down to prevent damage. Due to its age, on 16 August 2006 the company warned that until a decision was made over whether to extend its usable life it would operate at a maximum of 70 per cent load. Both reactors were subsequently restarted generating 420 MW each, roughly 70% of full capacity. The number 4 reactor was cleared for restart by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate on 11 May 2007.  The power station current accounting closure date in 2023.
Hinkley Point B is the only one of four nuclear power stations in the area which is operational, the others being decommissioned are the adjacent Hinkley Point A together with Oldbury and Berkeley on the banks of the River Severn. As of 2013 it provided 1% of the UK's total power output.
A new 3,260 MW Hinkley Point C nuclear power station was given planning consent on 19 March 2013.  A guaranteed "strike price" of £92.50 per megawatt-hour (to be indexed for inflation over 45 years) was announced on 21 October 2013. The new power station would see Hinkley's contribution to the country's power supply rise to 7%. At the time of the planning consent, the price for electric energy on the wholesale market was around £45 per megawatt-hour while the new power plant was expected to need earnings of £90 per megawatt-hour in order to break even.
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- The Times, Thursday, 13 Feb 1975
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- Dave Harvey (19 March 2013). "What price nuclear power? The final hurdle for Hinkley". BBC. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- What price nuclear power? The final hurdle for Hinkley BBC, 19 March 2013.
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