EDF Energy has announced plans to extend the lifetime of its UK nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point and Hunterston for seven years.
The Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B facilities in Somerset and North Ayrshire will now remain operational until at least 2023 and adds to the five-year extensions already granted to Heysham 1 and Hartlepool in 2010.
Hinkley Point B was one of the first Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGR) to come online when it started generating power in 1976 and has an output of 870 MW – enough to power over a million homes. Hunterston B is also an AGR power station with a similar capacity and came online in 1976.
But the UK is facing an ‘energy gap’ over the next decade as a number of the country’s first generation of nuclear facilities reach the end of their lifetime and coal-fired power stations close because of new EU limits on emissions.
While the government is still pursuing new nuclear development, progress has been slow and hampered by the lack of a clear policy.
EDF Energy’s CEO Vincent de Rivaz said the decision had been made after a “thorough review” of safety at the plants over their lifetimes.
“This decision will provide low carbon energy to keep the lights on in the UK and it will safeguard jobs at the plants, in the UK nuclear industry and its supply chain,” he said.
The company is also committed to investing £300 million a year on capital expenditure on its nuclear fleet and an additional £350 million on plant operations, he added. EDF Energy has already invested £44 million in the Hinkley Point B facility this year.
“Life extension does not replace the need for new low carbon generation. Even as we agree to extend the life of our existing plants, we are moving forward with plans to create the next generation of nuclear power stations,” de Rivaz goes on.
EDF Energy operates eight nuclear power stations in the UK and, in partnership with Centrica, has plans for four new plants.
The UK government has warmly welcomed the news, with Energy Minister John Hayes commenting:
“It is absolutely fantastic news for our energy security that these two nuclear power stations will continue generating vast amounts of electricity into the 2020s.”
For further information:
Hitachi closes deal to buy E.ON and RWE’s nuclear venture (27-Nov)
Investment in UK nuclear revival plan looking uncertain (3-Oct)
EC gives go ahead for EDF’s Hinkley Point nuclear project (8-Aug)
E.ON and RWE npower drop UK nuclear development plans (29-Mar)
Article source: http://www.energyefficiencynews.com/i/5606/