Press Releases

Nuclear gives Southern Scotland cleanest power during wind lull

02 December 2020


National Grid Electricity System Operator has published figures confirming that from 25-29 November, Southern Scotland had the cleanest grid in the UK, despite low wind. The continuous operation of Torness and Hunterston B nuclear power stations meant that Southern Scotland was the only part of the UK to stay within the UK’s 2030 target for electricity grid carbon intensity. Northern Scotland, which does not have nuclear power, was three times dirtier at times.

Nuclear was the leading source of zero-carbon generation throughout the UK from 25-29 November, as low renewable output and high demand led National Grid to issue its third warning in six weeks over Britain’s electricity supplies. The UK has experienced its longest coal-burning streak since April, with gas and coal generating nearly 70% of the UK’s electricity at times. Day-ahead auction prices for power reached £313.45/MWh on 26 November.

Reacting to the figures, Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said:

“Nuclear power provides Scotland a critical foundation of reliable, always-on, emissions-free power. Scottish power is cleaner than the UK average because nuclear power and wind power work together to cut emissions. However, as Hunterston B and Torness retire in the coming decade, Scotland will become more dependent on fossil fuels at times when the wind isn’t blowing, which is unstable, unsustainable, and unaffordable. These repeated warnings over our electricity supplies should emphasise the urgent need to invest in new low carbon capacity – nuclear power alongside renewables – to provide the clean electricity needed for homes, businesses and public services. That is the only path to net zero.”

The Climate Change Committee has estimated that the UK will need to generate four times as much clean power by 2050 to meet the legal target of net zero emissions, and has recommended that 38% of our power should come from firm sources, that are always available and do not depend on weather conditions. Nuclear is the only source of zero emissions firm power in the UK proven at scale.


Notes to Editors

  • National Grid ESO publishes updates here: showing the carbon intensity of the grid in different parts of the United Kingdom.
  • Nuclear power has saved more carbon emissions, over 1 billion tonnes, than any other electricity source in the UK over the lifetime of its operation.
  • Hunterston B nuclear power station is schedule to retire in 2022. Torness nuclear power station is due to retire in 2030. Both use two Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGRs).
  • All of the UK’s AGRs are due to retire by 2030. Only Sizewell B, with 1.2 GW of capacity, is scheduled to be operational after 2030.

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About the Nuclear Industry Association
As the trade association for the civil nuclear industry in the UK, the Nuclear Industry Association represents more than 250 companies across the UK’s nuclear supply chain.

For further information, please contact:
Lincoln Hill
Director of Policy and Communications, the Nuclear Industry Association
44 (0)7554 701533