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EDF Energy to extend operating life of two UK nuclear power stations

04 December 2012

Hinkley Point B in Somerset and Hunterston B in Ayrshire will now remain open until at least 2023 following an announcement by EDF Energy that it has approved a seven year life extension programme for both plants. The two began generating electricity in 1975 and were facing the end of their official operating life in 2016.

The Hunterston B AGR nuclear power station on the Ayrshire coast, with the Isle of Arran as a backdrop
The Hunterston B AGR nuclear power station on the Ayrshire coast, with the Isle of Arran as a backdrop

EDF Energy's decision, which follows extensive work with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), will mean continued employment for 1,500 staff and contractors at the two plants, which generate electricity for around two million homes.

Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: "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. It follows a thorough review of safety over the lifetime of each of the plants."

Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B operate at approximately 70% load due to boiler temperature restrictions.

The company has eight nuclear power stations in the UK and is planning to build two more at Hinkley Point and Sizewell in Suffolk, with plans for the former boosted by the granting of a formal site license by the ONR a week ago.

British Gas owner Centrica has a 20% stake in EDF's eight plants and in the project carrying out pre-development work for the new-build stations.

The Scottish Government is opposed to new nuclear power stations and can effectively veto any UK Government plan to build more north of the border, but is not opposed to extending the life of existing stations such as Hunterston B.

EDF Energy expects an average of seven-year life extensions across all its seven Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor (AGR) stations and a 20-year extension for Sizewell B, the only Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) in the UK.  The company says this would save 340 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to removing all the cars from UK roads for nearly five years.

Alongside the life extension announcement, EDF Energy has today also re-opened its visitor centre for Hinkley Point B in nearby Bridgwater town centre. The centre will give local people and others the opportunity to see for themselves how the station operates.

"We have always committed to operating openly and transparently," Mr de Rivaz said. "Following the events at Fukushima, The Chief Nuclear Inspector recommended that the nuclear industry look at ways to ensure more trusted, open and transparent relationships with the public and other stakeholders. We pledged to implement his recommendations in full and the decision to reopen this visitor centre is proof of our commitment."



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