EDF Energy extends lives of UK AGR plants

16 February 2016

EDF Energy has announced new scheduled closure dates for four of its UK Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) nuclear power plants. Meanwhile a final investment decision on the construction of the proposed Hinkley Point C plant remains pending.

Torness - 460 (EDF Energy)
The operating life of the Torness plant in East Lothian has been extended by seven years (Image: EDF Energy)

The company said today the scheduled closure dates for its Heysham 1 and Hartlepool plants had been extended by five years to 2024, while those of Heysham 2 and Torness had been extended by seven years to 2030. According to EDF Energy, the four plants together supply electricity to about one quarter of the UK's homes.

The announcement, EDF Energy said, follows extensive technical and safety reviews of the plants which have been shared with the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Hartlepool and Heysham 1 both started up in 1983 and have capacities of 1180 MWe and 1155 MWe, respectively. Heysham 2 and Torness, which were both commissioned in 1988, have capacities of 1230 MWe and 1185 MWe.

In a statement EDF Energy said, "In the face of challenging market conditions, the 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."

The company added, "Today's announcement follows life extensions at EDF Energy's other AGR power stations. In total, the program has the potential to avoid 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to taking all the cars off the road in the UK for three-and-a-half years."

EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said, "Our continuing investment, our expertise and the professional relationship we have with the safety regulator means we can safely prolong the operating life of our nuclear power stations. Their excellent output shows that reliability is improving whilst their safety and environmental performance is higher than ever."

EDF Energy's other operating UK nuclear power plants include the Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B AGRs - which both started up in 1976 and are scheduled to close in 2023 - and the Dungeness B AGR which was commissioned in 1983 and set to shut in 2028. It also operates Sizewell B - the UK's only pressurized water reactor - which began operating in 1995 and is currently scheduled to close in 2035.

Together EDF Energy's UK nuclear power plants generated 60.6 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2015, the highest level for ten years and 50% higher than in 2008 when the company acquired the plants from British Energy.

No decision yet on Hinkley

EDF has yet to make a final investment decision for the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK. A decision had been expected by the end of 2015 and was again delayed last month.

The planned Hinkley Point C plant - the first new nuclear power station built in the UK in almost 20 years - is scheduled to begin operating in 2025. Together, the two reactors will provide about 7% of the UK's electricity.

EDF Energy said today, "Hinkley Point C is a strong project which is fully ready for a final investment decision and successful construction. Final steps are well in hand to enable the full construction phase to be launched very soon."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News