Form 8 Trip to Torness Power Station

Friday 7th October 2016

torness Form 8 71016

As part of our topic in science this half term on Energy Resources and Energy Transfer, F8 visited Torness power station, to get a first-hand experience of how 40% of Scotland’s electricity is generated. We have been learning about electricity generation, discussing the issues around non-renewables versus renewables and looking towards the future of energy generation in Scotland. It’s a hot topic, even mentioned on the radio as we drove across the Borders, with Nicola Sturgeon in Iceland this week, discussing these issues with 2000 delegates at this year’s Artic Energy Summit.
Once through security, that involved identity checks for the adults and a metal detector sweep from the on-site police force, we made our way into the station with our 3 guides. Torness is a busy place, with up to 400 men and women working at any one time. We had to be mindful of the staff and make sure we kept to the walkways in single file during our visit.
The station has been very well adapted for visitors, with information panels along the walls and viewing galleries in 3 main areas - the reactor, the control room and the turbine/
generator hall. It was an eerie feeling, standing only a few meters from the 2 nuclear reactors and being told we were completely safe... In fact, we were exposed to lower levels of radiation today then we may experience as background radiation in our own homes. The control room looked like something out of a James Bond film - all shining cream plastic panels and coloured flashing lights.
Finally, the turbine hall - 3 turbines and 1 generator for each reactor, powered by steam produced with the heat from the reactors, each generating enough electricity for up to 1 million homes, 24 hrs a day. It struck me very strongly that all that industry, expertise and endeavour existed simply to turn a shaft inside a generator the size of a large bus - a magnet turning inside a large coil of copper wire - at 3000 rpm! The basic concept has remained unchanged since Faraday’s time nearly 200 years ago, but the modern technology around it is quite incredible.
As we left, the staff congratulated our pupils on their excellent behaviour, thoughtful questions and good manners, saying they were a credit to St. Marys and were welcome back any time. They even encouraged our pupils to think about the apprenticeship at Torness as a possible career choice. It was a very worthwhile experience and a pleasure to enjoy it with a mature and well-mannered F8. My thanks go to Torness staff for hosting us so generously and also to Mrs Harvey who kindly accompanied us.
Mwara Stuart.

Jules Birdsall, 07/10/2016