Hunterston B generated more clean power and saved more carbon than any other plant in Scottish history

Hunterston B nuclear power station, the most productive clean energy asset in Scottish history, goes offline for the final time at 12pm, Friday 7 January 2022. In 46 years of service to the nation, the Ayrshire plant has produced 297.4 TWh of low-carbon electricity, enough to power every home in Scotland for 31 years. The plant was originally expected to run for 25 years to 2001, but through the skill of British engineers, it has been able to operate another 21 years.

With that record output, Hunterston B has saved 224 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, based on the historical grid mix, since it began generation in 1976. No other Scottish power source has saved as much. That carbon is worth £16.8 billion at today’s carbon prices, a colossal environmental saving equivalent to £7,000 for each Scottish household.

Hunterston has provided further savings on consumer bills during the current energy crisis, as it has been the cheapest and most reliable clean power source in Scotland. Since the beginning of September this year, Hunterston has saved consumers £360 million compared to market electricity prices, worth £152 for every Scottish household. In just two weeks over Christmas, the station saved billpayers £28 million, worth £12 for every household.

Hunterston has also been a cornerstone of the Ayrshire economy, providing around 500 skilled jobs to full time staff on site, and supporting more than 200 jobs with contractors. Millions of pounds have been invested in the local community, which will continue as the station enters defueling.

Since the Scottish Government is opposed to new nuclear projects, though, there is no replacement for Hunterston B. The gap will have to be filled in part with imported gas sourced from extremely volatile global markets. This will drive up consumer bills, prevent more ambitious emissions reduction and threaten Scotland’s energy security.

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

“Hunterston B has shown the best of what nuclear can provide for Scotland – clean, reliable power to keep the lights on and save our planet, and long-term, skilled jobs, on which people can build a life and a family.

“The dedicated staff who have helped keep Scottish homes warm and light for 46 years, deserve our gratitude. As the current energy crisis demonstrates, without nuclear the cost of the electricity we rely on is higher, causes pollution and leaves us reliant on burning imported fossil fuels. That’s why we need new nuclear – to get to net zero and provide the reliable, secure and clean power to live our lives.”


Notes to editors

  • Scotland has relied on nuclear power more than any other nation of the United Kingdom, with 26% of Scottish electricity generation coming from nuclear in 2020.
  • With Hunterston B’s retirement, the UK now has six generating nuclear power stations, providing around 16% of the country’s electricity from 6.8 GW of capacity.
  • Three further stations will retire by March 2024, including Hinkley Point B by 15 July 2022, and all but one will retire by March 2028.
  • Hunterston B’s overall carbon dioxide emissions saving used historical electricity data from BEIS to calculate the average carbon intensity of fuel displaced.
  • More than 1.3 billion cubic metres of natural gas would be required to replace the electricity output of Hunterston B in 2021.
  • Nuclear has saved the UK 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, far more than any other source. The saving is equivalent to all UK emissions from 2015 through 2020.

About the Nuclear Industry Association

As the trade association for the civil nuclear industry in the UK, the Nuclear Industry Association represents more than 200 companies across the UK’s nuclear supply chain.


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Lincoln Hill
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