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Monday, 9 November 1964

Senator PALTRIDGE - The following answer is now supplied -

1.   By the end of 1964 there will be approximately 2,060 megawatts of nuclear power plant in operation in England and Wales. This figure includes the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Agency's dual purpose Calder Hall stations and the small prototype Windscale A.G.R. plant, and represents a little over 6 per cent. of the maximum demand expected this winter. Because the nuclear stations will operate on base load the proportion of energy supplied will be somewhat higher than this - about 9 per cent. based on next year's requirements.

In addition to the above, there is a further 2,740 MW of nuclear plant under construction in England and Wales, all of which will be in operation by mid-1969 bringing the total installed capacity to approximately 4,800 MW. This will represent about 9 per cent. of the peak demand and 13 per cent. of the total electricity production at that time. Early this year the British Government announced its second nuclear power programme covering the installation of a further 5,000 MW of plant between 1970 and 1975. Tenders for the first station under this programme have already been invited. Hence by 1975 some 10,000 MW of nuclear power plant arc planned for operation representing about 12 per cent. of the estimated peak demand and about 18 per cent. of the total electrical output. After 1975, the proportion of nuclear generation is expected to increase rapidly.

2.   There is only one civil nuclear power station in operation in Scotland; this has a rating of about 320 MW. The South of Scotland Electricity Board, however, receives about 175 MW of power from the U.K.A.E.A.'s dual-purpose Chapel Cross station and the Northern Board also receives some power from the Dounreay plant. The total contribution by nuclear power is therefore about 500 MW compared with an estimated peak demand this year of about 3,800 MW. Nuclear power therefore, accounts for about 13 per cent. of the power and 23 per cent. of the energy requirements on the basis of this year's estimates. No other stations are under construction in Scotland at present, but it has been indicated that one, probably of 1,000 MW, will be built during the 1970-1975 period. Hence by 1975 when the combined system demand is expected to reach 7,700 MW, about 20 per cent. of the power requirements and 33 per cent. of the energy requirements could be nuclear.

3.   The Dounreay reactor was designed originally as a small fast breeder power demonstration unit and commenced operating in late 1961. Since that date, however, it has been modified extensively and although it has operated and produced its design output of 15 MW for extended periods, it is now regarded essentially as an experimental facility for the development and testing of fuel elements and other components for future fast breeder reactors. No generation cost figures are available but, in any case, being a small experimental facility, any such figures would be meaningless in the context of commercial power generation. It is generally believed that fast breeder reactors must be built in very large sizes - 500 to 1,000 MW or more - to be economical. Although the U.K.A.E.A. has announced its intention to seek approval to build a prototype fast breeder plant next year, it is not expected to be competitive. Commercially competitive stations of this kind are not expected to be commissioned until about 1980.

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