This quarter, all the nuclear units operated by British Energy (all AGRs plus the Sizewell B PWR) have joined Ukraine in becoming unavailable. This is the first time in which all reactors of one type, in this case AGRs, have ceased to appear in our tables since they began operation in England and Scotland in 1976. At a time when British Energy is likely to need to work very hard simply to stay in existence, this seems a rather strange lapse into silly secrecy.

By the end of March 2005, the 427 nuclear units normally included in our tables had amassed a total of 9464 reactor years of operation. The 386 units for which data was available during the quarter ending 31 March 2005, produced 2452TWh of electricity during the preceding 12 months, with an overall average load factor of 78.4%. They had, over their lifetime to that date, generated 45543TWh of electricity. Their total rated gross capacity was 349922MWe.

The chase at the top of the lifetime performance table continues, with the Korean Wolsong 4 unit now one percentage point behind Germany’s Emsland, and itself being challenged by Wolsong 3 and 2! In the top ten lifetime output units, the picture changes even more slowly, with six German reactors still leading the field. Philippsburg 2 has now just managed to spilt the two Biblis reactors, and the two Peach Bottom units running neck and neck in the USA. However, the general picture of the world’s most copious nuclear electricity producers, and the best lifetime performers changes very little, to the credit of all concerned, but Germany in particular. This country has a prominent share in both these top ten tables. So who are the handful of Germans in some government department or other who wish to close this splendid contribution to keeping down CO2 production in energy generation, and providing their country with a great return on a massive investment in the past? Could it be the same bunch, or their colleagues, who thought that the citizens of Europe wanted a unified constitution – and so did not think to consult more widely over that decision either?

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