Plant Operation

UK / EDF To Extend Lifetimes Of Four Nuclear Reactors At Heysham And Hartlepool

By David Dalton
10 March 2023

Advanced gas-cooled plants could now operate until 2026 in ‘critical boost’ for energy security
EDF To Extend Lifetimes Of Four Nuclear Reactors At Heysham And Hartlepool
Hartlepool A has two advanced gas-cooled reactor units that began commercial operation in 1989. Courtesy EDF Energy.
EDF Energy is to keep four nuclear power reactors at the Heysham A and Hartlepool A nuclear power stations operating until 2026, two years longer than previously planned, because of the impact of war in Ukraine and energy price rises.

Both the stations, in the north of England, have been operating since the 1980s. EDF announced in September 2022 it was reviewing the case for a short extension.

The two stations were originally due to end generation in 2014. EDF Energy said it invested significant resources to enable the forecast to move to 2024. This has now been moved by a further two years to March 2026.

Heysham A and Hartlepool A both have two advanced gas-cooled reactor units. According to the Intrnational Atomic Energy Agency they all began full commercial operation in 1989, although the IAEA says they were first connected to the grid in either 1983 or 1984.

According to International Atomic Energy Agency data, the net capacity of all four units combined in 2,245 MW.

EDF Energy parent company EDF said last year that over the long term it is committed to playing its part in the government’s commitment to expand UK nuclear capacity from about 5.8 GW today up to 24 GW by 2050.

The French state-controlled company has major interests in four of the eight designated sites for nuclear development: Hinkley Point, Sizewell, Hartlepool and Heysham.

Critical Boost For Energy Security

The London-based Nuclear Industry Association had welcomed EDF’s plan to extend the life of Hartlepool and Heysham. Chief executive Tom Greatrex said extensions would provide a critical, immediate boost to UK energy security in the short term, cutting gas use and cutting bills.

In August the Hinkley Point B-1 nuclear power plant in southwest England was permanently shut down, leaving the UK with only nine reactors in commercial operation – putting more pressure on the UK’s electricity supplies ahead of the coldest months of the year.

In recent years the UK has generated about 15% of its power from its fleet of commercial nuclear power plants, but most are being retired this decade, with the last one – Sizewell B – due to close in 2035.

Since 2000, the UK has seen permanent reactor shutdowns at Hinkley Point A, Bradwell, Calder Hall, Hunterston, Oldbury, Sizewell, Chapelcross, Dungeness and Wylfa.

The only remaining operating plants are at Hartlepool A (two units), Heysham A (two units), Heysham B (two units), Sizewell B (one unit) and Torness (two units).

The estimated end of generation dates for Heysham B and Torness remain unchanged at March 2028. Sizewell B is scheduled for closure in 2035. At that point there could be only two reactors in commercial operation – the new EPR units at Hinkley Point C.

The two-unit Heysham A nuclear power station. Courtesy EDF Energy.

Pen Use this content