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.
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