Looks like they've sorted out the boiler problems they have had at
Heysham and Hartlepool for quite a while: H1 R2 G2 at full load for
the first time in ages.
Update: 01 Dec 2015 11.47hrs Output: 01 Dec 2015 12.15hrs
Reactor 1 : Feb-2017
Turbine Generator 1 : In service : 321 MW
Operating on 3 out of 4 boiler quadrants and at reduced load to
Reactor 2 : June-2018
Turbine Generator 2 : In service : 537 MW
Planned : Nominal full load : 20-Aug-15
But Wylfa is fading out:
Update: 2nd December 2015 Output: 2nd December 2015
Reactor 1 : Dec-2015
Turbine Generator 1 : 0 : 436 MW
Power is anticipated to fall in small increments (circa 5 MWe) at
unplanned points over the remaining period of generation due to
reducing core reactivity.
Reactor 2 : Closed
Turbine Generator 1 : Closed - no planned change : 0 MW
I thought these AGRs never operated at full design power because of
faults in the pre-stressing (or was it post-tensioning) of some vital
Of course that was a long long time ago. Perhaps it was eventually
fixed, or is it that we've forgotten that they've never worked as
It's a bit more complicated than that. We started with three completely
different designs and all had a variety of problems, some small and some
not so small. Then we built two more which tweaked one of the original
The design output was 650 MW (so that each reactor could supply what
was, in the early 1970's, the UK "state of the art" turbine and
generator which was this size). This meant that they needed to supply
steam at a temperature of 650C as generated in coal or oil fired plant,
something which no other large commercial nuclear power plant achieves.
These days, their typical output is between 500 and 600 MW and some have
run at over 600 MW.
There were two basic problems when they were designed. The first is that
they were a very large "scale-up" from the prototype Windscale AGR. The
second is that national pride dictated that a UK design must be chosen
over an American, and shown to be competetive on price. The lead station
was selected when the design was really only at an outline stage.
It was always recognised that they were pushing at the limits of the
technology, but then that was also true of other British projects, such
as the V bombers and motor sport. And engineering was still fashionable
at least into the 1960's; the aerospace, energy, and motor sport
industries had some very competent engineers right up to board level.
Indeed. I had a spell in the Turbogenerator Design office at
Trafford Park whilst the first alternator was on the test bed. I
did some work on mounting brackets for vibration detectors which
were to be clamped onto the stator end windings, to monitor their
movement during tests. It looked a bit of a beast, but I was back
at college on my thin sandwich course before they had it running.
Chris J Dixon Nottingham UK
I wish we could design a good "standard" nuclear powerstation. Optimised
for safety and reliability. Possibly small modular design to allow staged
upgrades or renewals without a shutdown. It seems that problems are so
often due to experiments - or non standard operation.
On Thu, 03 Dec 2015 17:49:27 +0000, The Natural Philosopher wrote:
MSR and LFTR should resolve that wish list. It just needs a decade or
three of development to become a mature technology. A couple of small
(5MWish) MSR reactors were built and tested back in the sixties at the
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee.
Despite its experimental success and promise of safer higher efficiency
reactor designs capable of using the more abundant thorium fuel which
could give up 99% of its nuclear energy compared to enriched uranium fuel
rods' 1% max before needing to be expensively reprocessed, the R&D
programme was cancelled in 1976.
If you're at all interested in modern nuclear energy, the wiki articles
covering ORNL, MSR and LFTR are well worth reading. Whilst this promising
technology was abandoned over 40 years ago I doubt we'd need more than a
decade or two to overhaul that 40 year gap since we now have design tools
(super computers) and 40 years' worth of materials R&D gained from
conventional nuclear reactor design with which to launch a greatly
accelerated development programme.
The problem today is the same as the one we had way back then, a lack of
funding due to a lack of interest. With the threat of winter power
outages looming ever larger with each passing year and a desire to reduce
pollution levels (along with an overdue 'Educational Adjustment'), the
'Interest' will perk up soon enough to divert funds away from the folly
of "Renewable Energy Schemes" and into were our best interests lay.
Of course, this all assumes we don't find ourselves sleepwalking into a
major nuclear conflict over the west's scramble to take control of oil
resources in the middle east. An effective energy policy based on modern
nuclear power generation technology will be the most effective way to
devalue the worth of such fossil fuel resources to the middle eastern
nations. We'll be able to do to them what Maggie Thatcher did to the UK's
coal mining industry in the 70s and 80s and for pretty much the same
reason, so as not to be held to ransom.
One of the current issues is that national standards and, more than
that, safety philosophies and prejudices vary; so that firstly, there is
always a "national" regulatory overhead in considering any new design,
and secondly that designers always have to think particularly about the
preferences in their key markets. It's getting better.
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