Hartlepool Power Station

Hartlepool power station is a nuclear power station situated on the northern bank of the mouth of the River Tees, 2.5 mi (4.0 km) south of Hartlepool in County Durham, North East England. The station has a net electrical output of 1,190 megawatts, which is 2% of Great Britain's peak electricity demand of 60 GW. Electricity is produced through the use of two advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGR). Hartlepool was only the third nuclear power station in the United Kingdom to use AGR technology. Hartlepool power station was also the first power station to be built as close to a major urban area.

Originally planned in 1967, with construction starting in 1969, the station started generating electricity in 1983, and was completed in 1985, initially being operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board. With privatisation of the UK's electric supply industry in 1990, the station has been owned by Nuclear Electric and British Energy, but is now owned and operated by EDF Energy. On 18 October 2010 the British government announced that Hartlepool was one of the eight sites it considered suitable for future nuclear power stations.


With the economic success of another advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) nuclear power station at Dungeness, the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) proposed their third AGR station in 1967 to be situated on the edge of the Durham coalfield, near the seaside resort of Seaton Carew. The proposal came at a time when the CEGB's move toward alternative fuels to coal, threatened the coal industry's existence. Despite this, and a short ministerial delay, the plans for the Seaton Carew station (which became known as Hartlepool nuclear power station) went ahead. Because the construction of the station was given the go ahead, the National Coal Board were not able to get the CEGB behind the plans for a prototype fluidised bed combustion (FBC) coal station at Grimethorpe in Yorkshire. Because of this, the UK missed out on pioneering FBC technology, before it became internationally recognised as the best way of burning coal.

Sited 1.65 mi (2.66 km) from Seaton Carew, and in the middle of the industrial complex of Teesside, the station was to be built closer to any major urban area than any nuclear power station site had been. To make this acceptable, the station's reactors were to be housed in prestressed concrete pressure vessels.

The construction of the power station which was undertaken by Nuclear Design & Construction ('NDC'), a consortium backed by English Electric, Babcock International Group and Taylor Woodrow Construction, began in 1969. The construction was delayed in 1970, when the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate declared that they were unhappy with part of the station's boiler design, setting the CEGB back £25 million. The station's reactors were supplied by the National Nuclear Corporation, and the station's generating sets by the General Electric Company. Some fourteen years into construction, the first of the station's two units were commissioned in 1983, the other in 1985. The station first generated electricity commercially on 1 August 1983.


The station is of the advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) type. It provides electricity for over 3% of the UK using two 1575 MWth advanced gas reactors to heat two 660 MWe generators, giving a maximum generating capacity of 1,320 MW. The station's net electrical output is 1,190 MW. This is enough electricity to power 1.5 million homes.

Visitors centre

In the 1990s there was an interactive visitors centre on site. There was also an activity centre for school visits which hosted a number of special events. Tours of the power station itself also took place. The centre has since closed.

Future of the station

The power station was originally expected to shut down in 2009, but was given permission by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) for an extension of five years in 2007, meaning that it can continue to generate until 2014. In 2010, the lifetime was further extended by another five years, so that generation can continue until 2019.

New station

In July 2008, the plant's then operator British Energy, suggested that the site would be a good location for a replacement nuclear power station. Then a year later in July 2009, the UK government named Hartlepool on a list of eleven sites in England and Wales, where new nuclear power stations could be built. On 9 November 2009, the government announced that ten of these sites, including Hartlepool, had been given the go-ahead for the construction of new reactors. If built, the station would use reactors capable of generating 1,800 MW each. It would cost between £1 billion and £2 billion to construct, would employ up to 3,000 construction workers for the possible six year construction period, as well as providing 600 full time jobs once completed. The new station has an anticipated operating life of 60 years.

The plans are opposed by environmental groups such as Greenpeace. Many local people are also opposed to the move as the power station lies 1.65 mi (2.66 km) from the local resort of Seaton Carew, although others support the idea as the current power station is a major employer in this area of high unemployment. In 2011, though, there is increased concern over these nuclear plans, following the serious nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan.

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