Most of Britain’s operating nuclear reactors are of a type that nobody else in the world has. Over recent months we have seen media reports about cracks in the reactor cores, problems with the boiler units and claims that the regulators are “moving the goalposts” to allow them to operate for longer than they should.
As of today, a number of the reactors are still shut down and as winter approaches nobody knows if they will be back online in time to generate the power when Britain needs it the most. Even when we get past winter, it’s still going to be many more years before new plants like Hinkley Point C can come along to replace them.
Are the current nuclear plants fit for purpose, will they keep the lights on this winter, and for how long can we rely on them to soldier on?
The SMC gathered four of the UK’s leading experts on the state of our nuclear power stations to share their thoughts and answer journalists’ questions.
Prof Laurence Williams, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Nuclear Engineering, Imperial College and Emeritus Professor of Nuclear Safety and Regulation, University of Central Lancashire
Mr Charles Potter, Director of Reactor Operations Support, National Nuclear Laboratory
Prof Andrew Sherry, Director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute, University of Manchester
Prof James Marrow, James Martin Chair of Energy Materials, Oxford Martin School and Dept of Materials at Oxford University (Mansfield College).