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EDF confirms plans to extend lifetime of two UK nuclear power plants

13 March 2023

EDF has confirmed that it will keep turbines turning at its Heysham 1 and Hartlepool power stations until at least March 2026. The decision was made after a rigorous review by EDF of the technical and commercial cases for life extension.

Image: EDF
Image: EDF

Heysham 1, in Lancashire, and Hartlepool, in Teesside both mark 40 years of generation this year. In 2009, when EDF took responsibility for the fleet, they were due to end generation in 2014. EDF has invested heavily in the power stations since 2009 to enable the forecast to move to 2024.

In particular, positive inspections of the graphite reactor cores during 2022 have increased confidence that the stations can generate for longer and continue to meet stringent regulatory standards, EDF said in a statement.

Matt Sykes, Managing Director of EDF’s Generation business said: “Supplying zero-carbon and affordable electricity, whatever the weather, has never been more important than right now. Our ongoing investment and careful stewardship of the UK nuclear fleet since 2009 has allowed us to make today’s decision and helps support the UK’s energy security at this challenging time.

“As well as helping the UK reduce its use of imported gas, it is also great news for the 2,000 skilled people whose jobs are supported by these sites and will help preserve valuable technical and operational skills that will be critical as the UK seeks to re-build its nuclear capability.”

The additional 29TWh of electricity these stations could generate over that 2-year period could help to displace six billion cubic metres of gas, EDF said.

A spokesperson for the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said: “We are aware of EDF’s announcement of its intention to extend the operating life of Heysham 1 and Hartlepool Power Stations.

“Although a plant life extension decision does not require formal regulatory assessment or approval by ONR, it is a requirement of the site licence that operations be carried out at all times under a valid safety case.

“A number of the current safety cases for the stations will need to be updated to achieve EDF’s stated ambitions, together with investment in plant to sustain equipment reliability, all while ensuring that the necessary people and skills are on site.

“The ongoing safety of operations will need to be fully demonstrated to us as part of the ongoing regulation of the sites in Lancashire and Teesside, which will be informed though our extensive inspection and assessment regime.

“Once we receive them, the safety cases from EDF will be thoroughly assessed by our team of expert inspectors. As the independent nuclear regulator, we will not allow any facility to operate unless we are satisfied that it is safe to do so.”

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