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EDF Energy extends lives of four UK nuclear plants

17 February 2016

EDF Energy, the UK subsidiary of the state-owned French energy group, announced on February 16 that after extensive technical and safety reviews and consultation with the Office for Nuclear Regulation, it will further extend the life of four of its eight nuclear power plants.

Heysham 1 & 2
Heysham 1 & 2

The French group, the only operator of nuclear stations in the UK, said the operational lives of the Heysham 1 and Hartlepool plants would be extended by five years until 2024, and those of Heysham 2 and Torness by seven years to 2030.

Hartlepool and Heysham 1 both started up in 1983 and have capacities of 1180 MWe and 1155 MWe, respectively. Heysham 2 and Torness, which were both commissioned in 1988, have capacities of 1230 MWe and 1185 MWe.

In a statement EDF Energy said, "In the face of challenging market conditions, the belief that two important government policies will be maintained and strengthened has given EDF Energy the confidence to move the scheduled closure dates of the four stations. The Carbon Price Floor encourages generation from low-carbon sources like nuclear, while the Capacity Market ensures the UK has the power it needs."

The company added, "Today's announcement follows life extensions at EDF Energy's other AGR (Advanced Gas Reactor)  power stations. In total, the program has the potential to avoid 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to taking all the cars off the road in the UK for three-and-a-half years."

EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said, "Our continuing investment, our expertise and the professional relationship we have with the safety regulator means we can safely prolong the operating life of our nuclear power stations. Their excellent output shows that reliability is improving whilst their safety and environmental performance is higher than ever."

EDF Energy's other operating UK nuclear power plants include the Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B AGRs - which both started up in 1976 and are scheduled to close in 2023 - and the Dungeness B AGR which was commissioned in 1983 and is set to shut in 2028. It also operates Sizewell B - the UK's only pressurised water reactor - which began operating in 1995 and is currently scheduled to close in 2035.

According to World Nuclear News, EDF Energy's UK nuclear power plants generated 60.6 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2015, the highest level for ten years and 50% higher than in 2008 when the company acquired the plants from British Energy.

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