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EDF Energy could bring Dungeness B nuclear plant’s decommissioning date forward

09 April 2021

EDF Energy announced on April 8 that it was exploring a range of options in relation to its Dungeness B nuclear plant in Kent, south east England. One of the options is to bring forward the plant’s decommissioning date of 2028 as it continues to suffer from technical challenges that continue to make its future both difficult and uncertain, EDF said.

Dungeness B power station - Image: Downer
Dungeness B power station - Image: Downer

The 1.1 gigawatt Dungeness B power station last generated electricity in September 2018 and has been offline since as EDF carries out inspections and maintenance of pipes carrying steam to the turbine. The company has also been trying to conduct work on corrosion which was found during inspections of safety back-up systems. The plant is currently forecast to return to service in August 2021.

EDF said that the station continues to have a number of “unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges”. The energy company said many of these issues can be explained by the fact that Dungeness was designed in the 1960s as a prototype and suffered from very challenging construction and commissioning delays. Major investments have been made to repair and upgrade the station over many years, including more than £100million in this current outage. A number of significant technical risks still remain however.

The current scheduled decommissioning date is 2028. Given the unique technical challenges, a range of scenarios are being actively explored by EDF. These include moving directly into the defuelling phase later this year – if return to service cannot be achieved – bringing forward the end of generation date, or continuing until the scheduled date of 2028. EDF said any change in closure date will be driven by the technical conditions and ensuring it continues to maintain safety over the entire lifecycle of Dungeness.

EDF expects to have the technical information required to make a decision in the next few months as it believes it is important to bring clarity to the more than 800 people that work at the station, and who support it from other locations, as well as to Government and all those with a stake in the station’s future.

In September 2020, EDF Energy announced it was closing its Hunterston B nuclear power station in 2021, two years earlier than intended. The nuclear power station in Ayrshire, Scotland, has been closed since 2018 when 350 cracks were found in the graphite bricks that make up the reactor's core. EDF has spent around £200m trying to fix the reactor since it went offline in 2018.

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