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GKN Neckarwestheim, Unit 1

GKN Neckarwestheim, Unit 1, is a pressurized water reactor with an electric power output of 840 megawatts, which went online in 1976. GKN Neckarwestheim is special in that it produces two kinds of electricity: three-phase AC with 50 hertz for the public power grid and single-phase AC with a frequency of 16.7 hertz. Therefore, the plant has two generators and the single-phase AC generator is the largest of its kind in the world and the only one in the world driven by a nuclear power plant.

But why does such a generator exist? In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, nearly all train systems, which are operated by the national railway companies, are required to use single-phase AC with a frequency of 16.7 hertz because of a treaty signed in 1912. DC power was possible at the time but would have required the installation of several substations along the railway lines.

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