16 Feb (NucNet): EDF Energy plans to extend the life of eight nuclear power reactors at four nuclear stations in the UK and has said it is close to announcing a decision on its investment in two new reactors at Hinkley Point.
The Heysham A and Hartlepool stations will be extended by five years until 2024, and the closure dates of Heysham B and Torness will be delayed by seven years to 2030.
Each station has two gas-cooled reactor units in commercial operation.
EDF Energy said it invests £600m (€769m $858m) a year in its nuclear plants and this investment is paying off. In 2015, their output was 60.6 TWh, the highest level for 10 years and 50 percent higher than in 2008 when EDF Energy acquired the stations.
The company said that in the face of challenging market conditions, 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.
Last year, safety performance was the best ever with zero reportable nuclear events, EDF Energy said. The number of unplanned outages in 2015 dropped by more than 50 percent compared with the year before.
The UK government and EDF executives had hoped that a final investment decision on Hinkley Point would follow the company’s agreement in October 2015 with state-owned CGN, but that decision has been delayed.
EDF Energy said today it was negotiating final details with its Chinese partner and was looking at how best to finance Hinkley Point in the light of low wholesale electricity prices.
The London-based Nuclear Industry Association, the trade body for the civil nuclear sector, welcomed the operating extensions announced today.
A statement said: “Nuclear power provides 20 percent of the UK’s low carbon, baseload electricity, giving the UK a home-grown source of clean energy.”
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