End of an era where Britain can stand proud

Posted: December 30, 2015 by tchannon in Energy, Nuclear power



(c) Ian Capper under CC

World’s Last Magnox Nuclear Reactor Shuts Down for Final Time

12/30/2015 | Aaron Larson

The Wylfa Nuclear Power Station—the last operating Magnox reactor in the world—came offline permanently on Dec. 30.

Located in Anglesey, an island off the northwest coast of Wales in the UK, the plant entered service in 1971. Originally constructed with two 490-MW units, only Reactor 1 has been operating since 2012.

The UK pioneered the Magnox design back in the 1950s. Its name comes from the magnesium-aluminum alloy used to clad the fuel rods. The reactors were pressurized, CO2-cooled, graphite-moderated units fueled with natural uranium. The design could also be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. The first of 11 eventual plants was the 190-MW Calder Hall facility in Cumbria, which opened in 1956. The Wylfa site was the largest of the Magnox plants.


At what point did we go mad?

Where is the 50+ years of development?

The plant entered service 1971, what was the world then?

Post by Tim

  1. Joe Public says:

    1x 490MW reactor generating since 2012.

    It’d be interesting to know its 2015 total production.

    And, compare that figure, with the 2015 output from the 10% greater capacity 539MW Whitelee Wind Farm.

  2. At what point?

    1990 – 1991.

    The Iron Lady exited and the treaty of Maastricht entered.

  3. Fanakapan says:


    Interesting that you surmise that Thatchers fall from power should be the cause of Britain’s exit from the realm of nuclear power progress.

    I’d have to suggest that her policies were Directly responsible for such a sad state of affairs.

    It was after all her idea to ‘Privatise’ the electricity generation infrastructure, and its not too big a leap of logic to see that private companies will be loathe to embark upon investment which as Wyfa demonstrates has a lifetime of nearly 50 years, plus the several decades of revenue losing end of life clean up ?

    I wonder how many years it would take to regain the ground lost due to the dogma of Thatcher ? Maybe it would be a simpler bet to get the Chinese to build some glow in the dark, Micky Mouse knock off of what was once domestically procurable ?

  4. tallbloke says:

    Fanakapan, fair point in my view. I’m not one for ‘big government’, but since the government has just outsourced energy planning (no doubt to a body which will be impervious to freedom of information requests), there’s no reason energy generation couldn’t be similarly outsourced but govt directed in terms of required mix, with suitable investment channelled from fracking revenues.

  5. bit chilly says:

    i used to make the aluminum oxide pellets that sat at each end of the fuel rods . the spec for the density of the pellets was so low uncompressed powder would have met it. the quality control procedure was however the strictest i have ever worked with. it took 6 months of expensive testing to get wd 40 passed for cleaning the carbide tool set used to manufacture the pellets.

    i hope the chinese have similar levels of quality control.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Instead we’ll have more of these.

  7. catweazle666 says:

    Sad to think that Great Britain was the first nation to open a nuclear power station, Calder Hall at Windscale in 1956.

    Around that time, we had the fastest production car in the World – the Jaguar XK120, the first transatlantic jet airliner – the De Havilland Comet, the fastest locomotive in the World – Mallard, the world speed records on both land and water courtesy of Sir Donald Campbell and his Bluebirds, the World air speed record by Peter Twiss and the Fairey Delta II.

    We had World-leading experimental rocket facilities at Spadeadam in Cumberland and Woomera in Australia.

    And that’s just for starters.

    Now look at us…

  8. tallbloke says:

    Not forgetting the fastest production motorcycle in 1957, the mighty Vincent black lightning, clocked at 157mph on Bonneville salt flats in 1948.

  9. catweazle666 says:

    Yes, a serious omission!

    That’s Rollie Free…

    A brave man!

  10. suricat says:

    tallbloke says: January 16, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    “Not forgetting the fastest production motorcycle in 1957, the mighty Vincent black lightning, clocked at 157mph on Bonneville salt flats in 1948.”

    I like your taste in bikes TB, but the ‘lightning’ was a bog standard ‘shadow’ with the adaptations of a ‘monoblock’ carb and ‘upgraded forks’.

    The ‘record’ was for the ‘1/4 mile standing start’ (which [AFAIK] remains ‘unbroken’). I’m unsure of where this ‘record’ was recorded. 🙂

    Best regards, Ray.