The UK generates more than 20% of its total electricity from its nuclear power plants. The country currently has a total of 15 operational nuclear reactors at eight power generating facilities.
NS Energy profiles the list of top nuclear power plants in the UK, based on the total power supply by each plant to the national grid.
Top nuclear plants in the UK
1. Heysham 2 – 1.23GW
Heysham 2, by size, heads our list of top nuclear plants in the UK. Featuring two advanced gas-cooled reactors, the nuclear plant is located on the North West coast of England near Lancaster.
Commissioned in 1988, the power plant has an operating licence until 2030. It is operated by EDF Energy Nuclear Generation, a subsidiary company of EDF Energy.
The nuclear plant is capable of generating power required to meet the power needs of over 2.5 million homes, which is enough electricity to keep three cities the size of Liverpool supplied during peak loading hours.
Construction of the Heysham 2 nuclear project was undertaken by a consortium, known as National Nuclear Corporation (NNC).
2. Sizewell B – 1.19GW
The Sizewell B nuclear power plant is the second-largest facility in our list of top nuclear plants in the UK. Said to be the country’s only pressurized water reactor, Sizewell B is located on the Suffolk coast.
Operating one pressurized water reactor, the power plant is capable of supplying power to 2.5 million homes, meeting around 3% of the UK’s entire electricity needs.
Commissioned in February 1995, the plant is currently estimated to operate till 2035. Sizewell B is operated by the license holder EDF Energy Nuclear Generation, a subsidiary company of EDF Energy.
In 2017, EDF constructed a new dry fuel store at Sizewell B plant and placed the first spent nuclear fuel, marking a continued safe operation of the Suffolk power station.
3. Torness – 1.19GW
Torness is the third largest power plant in the European county. Located approximately 30 miles (48.2km) east of the city of Edinburgh at Torness Point near Dunbar in East Lothian, Scotland, the power plant is claimed to be last of the UK’s second generation nuclear power plants to be commissioned in the country.
Operating two advanced-gas reactors (AGR), the Torness power plant is capable of supplying power to over 2 million homes. The plant’s end of generation is scheduled in 2030.
The power plant is operated by EDF Energy subsidiary company EDF Energy Nuclear Generation. Commissioned in 1988, the power plant was initially owned by South of Scotland Electricity Board.
4. Hartlepool – 1.18GW
Owned and operated by EDF Energy, the Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station is located in northeastern England.Through its two advanced gas-cooled reactors, the Hartlepool nuclear power plant produces an annual output of 4,600GWh to meet the power consumption needs of more than two million UK homes.
The Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station, which was built on the northern bank of the Tees River, 4km south of Hartlepool in Durham County, has been operating since 1983. About two years later, the nuclear power plant was fully commissioned through the addition of the second power generating unit.
Construction on this British nuclear power station, which began in 1968, was undertaken by Nuclear Design & Construction (NDC), a consortium made up of English Electric, Babcock International Group and Taylor Woodrow Construction.
The Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station, which employs nearly 530 full-time people along with 200 full-time contract partners, is scheduled to retire in 2024.
5. Dungeness B – 1.15GW
Located on the southeast coast of England, near Romney Marsh in Kent, the Dungeness B nuclear power station is owned and operated by EDF Energy.
The nuclear power plant comprises two advanced gas-cooled reactors. While the first unit was commissioned in 1983, the second reactor began operations about two years later.
Construction on the Dungeness B nuclear power station began in 1966 and was undertaken by a consortium called Atomic Power Construction (APC), supported by Crompton Parkinson, Fairey Engineering, International Combustion and Richardsons Westgarth.
Dungeness B was originally scheduled to retire in 2018 but its operations have been extended to 2028 after getting an additional £150m investment to improve its safety features. The nuclear power station, which is capable of meeting the power consumption needs of nearly 1.5 million homes annually, employs nearly 550 full-time people and 200 full-time contract partners.
6. Heysham 1 – 1.12GW
The Heysham 1 Nuclear Power Station is also operated by EDF Energy. Heysham 1, which has been built on the northwest coast of England at Morecambe near Lancaster. It comprises two advanced gas-cooled reactors, which put together power nearly 1.9 million homes.
Construction on the Heysham 1 Nuclear Power Station dates back to 1970 with first power generated in 1983 through the first reactor.
Heysham 1’s construction was carried out by the British Nuclear Design & Construction (BNDC) consortium, which was supported by English Electric, Babcock & Wilcox and Taylor Woodrow Construction. The nuclear power plant’s reactors were supplied by National Nuclear Corporation while the turbines were delivered by General Electric Company, a defunct British industrial conglomerate.
The Heysham 1 Nuclear Power Station, which involves around 530 full-time employees and over 200 full-time contract partners for its operations, is estimated to remain in operations till 2024.