Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Another Nuclear Milestone:

Record Long Run

It's always good news to hear about nuclear power plants that perform well, so the news this week from the World Nuclear Association's World Nuclear News that the Heysham II nuclear power plant in the United Kingdom broke the world record for continuous operation of a commercial nuclear power station was very welcome. 

It achieved that record on August 1, when it reached 895 days of continuous operation, breaking a record of 894 days set by Pickering's unit 7 in 1994.

It also may be of interest that a number of the longest-running plants are not light water reactors (LWR).  Heysham is an advanced gas reactor (AGR), and Pickering is a Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR).  The previous record holders were also an AGR and a PHWR. 

The longest-running LWRs so far have been the LaSalle 2 boiling water reactor (BWR), with a 739-day run ending in 2007, and the Calvert Cliffs 2 pressurized water reactor (PWR), with a 693-day run ending in 2009.

I note that when I wrote my book on nuclear milestones, I deliberately chose to limit the milestones I covered to "firsts."  Thus, I did not cover a number of achievements such as biggest reactor, or performance-related achievements such as highest total generation or longest continuous run.  It was a tough decision, because these are really milestones, too, and they are very impressive and important milestones.  However, firsts stand forever, but, as this achievement by Heysham II demonstrates, milestones related to measures such as size or performance are inevitably broken. 

In this case, the previous record was set over 20 years ago.  In other cases, however, such records stand for much shorter times.  Hence, a book that covered every possible milestone is a book that is likely to become outdated very quickly.  And while one has to hope that the industry keeps exceeding its past performance, it wouldn't be good for book sales!

But since I didn't cover such milestones in my book, I am especially happy to be able to celebrate such a significant achievement in this blog.  Congratulations to EDF Energy, the Heysham II operator and to all who contributed to achieving this milestone!


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