Heysham 2 nuclear power station’s record-breaking reactor has been taken out of service for a planned maintenance programme.

One of the two units at the Lancashire, UK, station was turned off for planned maintenance on 16 September after 940 days of continuous operation. This record run beats a record previously held for 22 years by the Pickering nuclear power station in Canada.

During the run the reactor produced over 14TWh, enough low carbon electricity to power 3.4m homes for a year, while avoiding around 7.5m tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Since EDF Energy took over its UK nuclear power stations 2009, their output has increased by 50%, safety performance has increased by 51% and their lifespans have increased by 25%.

Earlier this year EDF Energy announced new extended scheduled closure dates for four of its nuclear power stations, with Heysham 2 now scheduled to operate until 2030, an extension of seven years.

Torness power station, in East Lothian, also operated by EDF Energy is due to break Heysham 2’s record in February 2017 and it is due to reach 996 continuous days of operation when it shuts down for planned maintenance in April 2017.

EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said “EDF Energy’s expertise and investment has significantly improved the productivity of its nuclear power stations in Britain, providing more reliable, low carbon electricity for customers and industry. That strong performance  underpins our credibility as a nuclear operator and developer. Great safety performance goes hand in hand with great commercial performance and I am particularly proud that Heysham 2’s record is a great example of the benefits of a strong safety culture.”  

John Munro, station director at Heysham 2 said: “This excellent performance only happens with lots of planning, investment and total commitment from a very professional team of people here at Heysham 2.
The investment in the plant during the planned maintenance shutdown will support the plant’s lifetime extension – supported by 1000 skilled people.”

The extensive programme of planned work at Heysham 2 will see camera inspections inside the reactor, as well as the installation of new equipment. The biggest projects include replacing two large gas circulators which help cool the reactor.

These statutory outages take place every three years and are planned in advance with the National Grid to ensure that there is no impact on the national electricity supply.

Heysham 2’s other reactor is due to continue operating normally throughout the period.