Following the discovery of 39 cracks in graphite bricks on reactor 3 of Hunterston B nuclear power station on the Ayrshire coast, Roy Beggs MLA has posed the question to the Utility Regulator and to SONI as to what are the implications for the security of electricity supply in Northern Ireland and has called for a rethink of the ISEM process which will result in the closure of Kilroot power station.
Roy Beggs MLA said:
“The discovery of cracks and the decision to cease generating from the 485MW reactor 3 at Hunterston nuclear power station could have implications for availability of power for the Moyle Interconnector during peak winter demand. The current model used by SONI assumes that a minimum of 225MW of electricity would be transmitted under the Irish Sea along the Moyle Interconnector cables, to Northern Ireland. Any such changes to SONI’s electricity availability assumptions would add further risks of black outs in Northern Ireland following the end of electricity generation from Kilroot’s main turbines.”
“As a result of software problems, SONI has already decided to delay I-SEM to the 1st October 2018. The Hunterston B power station was originally due to close in 2011 and had then been re-assessed to continue operations until 2023. EDF Energy have taken the Nuclear Reactor 3 out of service and in a statement said ‘We expect the unit to return to service before the end of 2018’.
“The ability to reliably generate electricity from Hunterston B’s Reactor 3 must now be in doubt. I have written to both the Utility Regulator and SONI asking that they reassess the I-SEM assumptions and outcome which were originally to result in the closure of Kilroot power station from the 23rd May 2018. Once generating capacity is lost from the main turbines at Kilroot, it will be very difficult and may prove too expensive to bring them back into service. I once again call on the Regulator to intervene with this flawed I-SEM process which would result in the loss of 514MW of electricity generated at Kilroot Power Station, before it’s too late.”