The first nuclear power stations

By Energy Company Numbers on November 22, 2014 in Help and advice

The world’s first power station was designed and built by Lord Armstrong at Cragside, England in 1868. Cragside is a country house in the parish of Cartington in Northumberland, England. It was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectric power. Water from one of the lakes was used to power Siemens dynamos…

The first public power station was the Edison Electric Light Station, which was built in London at 57, Holborn Viaduct, it began operating in January 1882. The Government passed the electric Lighting Act in 1882, this allowed local councils to grant concessions to electricity companies to provide supplies within their council boundaries. However, the leases were for very short time frames, which was a hindrance to investment, the law was quickly changed to allow for longer leases to be granted. Local Authority leases allowed the rights to dig up pavements and roads to lay any necessary cables.  Edison did not originally have permission to dig up the roads to lay his cables. His decision to put the power station on the Holborn Viaduct was because large service tunnels were already in place. A Babcock and Wilcox boiler powered one hundred and twenty five horsepower steam engine that drove a twenty seven ton generator called Jumbo, after the elephant.

Edison focused on the electric light system in 1878, setting aside the phonograph for almost ten years. With backing from a group of financiers, The Edison electric Light Co was formed to carry out experiments with electric lights and to control any patents as a result of them. Edison received a large stock in return from handing over his patents to the company. Work carried on into 1879 not only to devise an incandescent bulb, but to devise an entire electrical lighting system that would be able to support an entire city.

After the success of 57, Holborn Viaduct in September 1882 in New York, the Pearl street station was established by Edison to provide electric lighting in the lower Manhattan Island area. This time the station used reciprocating steam engines to turn direct-current generators. It was destroyed by fire in 1890.

As the world’s population grew, so did its thirst for energy, on the 3rd of September 1948 electricity was generated by a nuclear reactor for the first time. The name of the reactor was the X-10 Graphite reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in the United States, this was also the first nuclear power plant to power a light bulb.

On June 27th 1954, the world’s first nuclear power plant to generate electricity for a power grid started its operations at the Soviet city of Obninsk.

The world’s first full scale nuclear power station, Calder Hall in England opened on October 17th, 1956.

Amongst Thomas Edison’s famous quotes is “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

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Energy Company Numbers is a telephone number directory service dedicated to helping UK consumers keep in touch with their energy suppliers.


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