Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Nuclear generation down as renewables pick up slack

wylfa newydd cgi horizon nuclear power

Output from nuclear power stations fell 7% in 2018, while renewable energy continued to go from strength to strength, according to latest figures from the Office of National Statistics 

The latest report on UK Energy Statistics for 2018 reveals that “reactor outages and required maintenance” have led to a drop in nuclear power output. 

Overall, nuclear power plants generated 65.1TWh of energy in 2018, 7.5% less that 2017.  

The operational output of nuclear plants also fell by 5% during 2018, with plants operating at just 72% of overall capacity. The ONS put this down to a “a prolonged unplanned outage at Hunterston B” limiting nuclear generation for much of the year.

Earlier this year, New Civil Engineer reported that cracks in the graphite reactor wall at Hunterston B might not be dangerous to human health, but the problem could cause more shut downs for long periods of inspection and maintenance.

A spokesperson for the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) told New Civil Engineer that similar cracks “will be life limiting” to the nuclear power plants sharing the same technology as Hunterston B.    

And while the reactor fleet ages, the new capacity to replace it remains uncertain, with plans for the Wylfa power station in north Wales in the balance, and opposition to a new EDF plant in Suffolk gaining momentum.  

Renewable energy produced 111TWh of power, a third of all the energy produced in the UK last year, up 11.8% on the previous year.  Renewables were boosted by repeated government support and funding programmes.

Earlier this month a £250M sector deal for the offshore wind industry was annouced, and the Scottish and Welsh governments have both pushed to reinforce their tidal and wave energy sectors with innovation funding and support. 

In total, low carbon generation – which includes nuclear and renewables, which accounted for a record high of 52.8% of energy produced and energy production overall was 3.7% higher than 2018.  

Pictured: Render of suspended Wylfa Newydd power plant in Wales. 

Like what you’ve read? To receive New Civil Engineer’s daily and weekly newsletters click here. 

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.