UK nuclear plant gets ten-year extension

20 January 2015

EDF Energy has announced a ten-year life extension for Dungeness B. The two-unit advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) plant will continue generating electricity until 2028. The company has also signed new contracts supporting the ongoing operations of its UK fleet.

Dungeness B's coastal defence improvements include the use of rock armour boulders (Image: EDF Energy)

Dungeness B's two 545 MWe AGR reactors started up in 1983 and 1985 respectively. The plant's life extension is part of EDF Energy's strategy to keep its UK nuclear fleet in operation until at least 2023 – the date that its planned new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C is due to be commissioned.

"This means existing nuclear can hand over directly to the next generation of nuclear power stations without the need for more fossil fuel generation," said EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz. Hinkley C is still subject to a final investment decision.

The life extension follows a £150 million ($228 million) investment program at the plant, including a £75 million ($114 million) upgrade to control room computer systems and enhanced flood defences costing £8 million ($12 million). Extensive reviews of the plant's safety cases have been carried out, and the plant will also be subject to continuing independent safety reviews by the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

EDF is currently investing around £600 million ($911 million) per year into its eight UK nuclear power plants. The case for investment in Dungeness B and the company's other nuclear power stations has been supported by the existence of the UK's electricity capacity market, which it said "gives investors confidence in highly challenging conditions".

Keith Parker, chief executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, described the decision to extend Dungeness B's operating life as "excellent news for the local, regional and national economy". Keeping all of the UK's AGRs in operation until the commissioning of Hinkley Point C would help maintain security of supply and avoid the generation of "millions of tonnes of CO2," he added.

Strategic partnerships

EDF Energy announced the Dungeness extension alongside partnerships to support the ongoing operation of its UK fleet.

These include a strategic nuclear partnership between EDF Energy, Amec Foster Wheeler, Cavendish Nuclear, Atkins and Doosan Babcock to share knowledge and expertise in support of EDF Energy's nuclear stations; a £150 million ($228 million), five-year contract with Cape plc to supply access, insulation and services for all of EDF Energy's nuclear power stations; and a contract with Cavendish Nuclear, part of Babcock International, for carrying out inspections of graphite in the reactors, maintaining gas circulators and providing support. The agreement with Cavendish Nuclear is worth around £40 million ($61 million) per year, EDF Energy said.

Amec Fosters Wheeler's vice president for nuclear generation and defence, Dawn James, said the company was "delighted" to be a founding partner in the strategic partnership agreement, which she said would deliver a "world-class capability" to ensure the continued safe generation of EDF's plants.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News