The NIA said results from nuclear operator EDF Group showed that despite two nuclear plants retiring, the fleet delivered 43.6 TWh of power in 2022, helping to avoid the burning of nine billion cubic metres of gas, and from emitting 15 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, worth more than £1bn (€1.13bn) at today’s carbon price.
Last year, £450m was invested in the existing fleet, of which, nine plants remain across four sites at Hartlepool, Heysham, Sizewell B and Torness.
Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B both retired in 2022 after 46 years of service.
Since 2000, the UK has seen permanent reactor shutdowns at Hinkley Point A, Hinkley Point B, Bradwell, Calder Hall, Hunterston, Oldbury, Sizewell, Chapelcross, Dungeness and Wylfa.
There are two plants under construction at Hinkley Point C and another two in the pipeline at Sizewell C.
Over the next three years from 2023 to 2025, £1bn is to be spent helping to maintain output levels, to improve UK energy security and help meet de-carbonisation targets, the NIA said.
Through investments totalling £7bn since 2009, an extra 30% of output has been obtained from the current fleet – more than 150 TWh, enough to supply all UK homes for over a year.
The UK’s eight advanced gas-cooled reactor plants, commissioned in the 1980s, would have retired this year without that investment, the NIA said. According to the NIA, their continued operation has saved 60 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, worth £4.1bn at current carbon prices, and displaced 31 billion cubic metres of gas.
The NIA said nuclear power remains one of the cheapest sources of electricity on the grid. The country’s reactors provide power “well below the market average price”, which has been driven to record levels due to volatile international gas markets.