Hunterston A nuclear power station

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Hunterston A nuclear power station
Hunterston A nuclear power station.jpg
The Hunterston A Magnox reactor buildings
Hunterston A nuclear power station is located in Scotland
Hunterston A nuclear power station
Location of Hunterston A nuclear power station in Scotland
Country Scotland
Location North Ayrshire
Coordinates 55°43′20″N 4°53′24″W / 55.72222°N 4.89000°W / 55.72222; -4.89000Coordinates: 55°43′20″N 4°53′24″W / 55.72222°N 4.89000°W / 55.72222; -4.89000
Status Decommissioned
Construction began 1957 - 1964
Commission date 1964
Decommission date 31 March 1990
Owner(s) SSEB
Scottish Nuclear
Magnox Electric
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority
Nuclear power station
Reactor type Magnox
Reactor supplier GEC
Power generation
Units operational Six 60 MW C. A. Parsons and Company
Units decommissioned 2 x 150 MWe

Hunterston A nuclear power station was a Magnox power station located at Hunterston in Ayrshire, Scotland, adjacent to Hunterston B and is currently being decommissioned.


Construction of the power station, which was undertaken by a consortium of GEC and Simon Carves,[1] began in 1957 and the facility was opened by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother on 22 September 1964. Hunterston A had two Magnox reactors capable of generating 180 MWe each.[2] The reactors were supplied by GEC and the turbines by C.A. Parsons & Company.[2] The main civil engineering contractor was Mowlem.[2]

The Magnox reactors used natural uranium fuel (in magnox alloy 'cans') within a graphite core, and were cooled by carbon dioxide gas. Each reactor, which consisted of more than 3000 fuel channels, was enclosed in a steel pressure vessel. Eight boilers, known as Steam Raising Units, were located around each reactor. An outer building, mainly of glass, provided weather protection. The six 60 MW generators were located in an adjoining turbine hall.

The Hunterston A reactor design was unique in that each was raised up to a height of over 10 metres to enable refuelling to take place from underneath. This meant that gravity assisted the process of used fuel removal, and avoided the need for lifting machinery to be inserted into the active core for on-load refuelling.[3]

In later years of operation the reactors were derated to 150 MWe each. This was to slow the corrosion of steel components which, at the original higher temperatures, could have compromised reactor life.

The construction of Cruachan Power Station, a pumped-storage hydroelectric dam and power station, was linked to that of Hunterston A, to store its surplus night-time generated electricity.[4]

Shutdown and decommissioning[edit]

Hunterston A closed in 1990, with Reactor 2 shutting down on 31 December 1989 and Reactor 1 on 31 March 1990, immediately prior to the splitting of SSEB into Scottish Power and Scottish Nuclear.


From construction to closure in March 1990, the power station was owned and operated by South of Scotland Electricity Board. As part of the privatisation of the Scottish electricity generators, Hunterston A was transferred, with the adjacent Hunterston B, to the new state owned company Scottish Nuclear. In 1996 upon privatisation of the UK nuclear industry, the site was transferred, this time on its own to the state-owned Magnox Electric. In April 2005, the NDA took over ownership and place the site with its Site Licence company, Magnox North Ltd.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ UK Consortia NEI Magazine, August 2009
  2. ^ a b c Nuclear Power Plants in the UK - Scotland and Wales
  3. ^ Magnox North: site history
  4. ^ James Freeman (19 May 2003). "Mountain of power to get £18.5m facelift". The Herald. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 

External links[edit]