Energy EDF Energy extends life of four UK nuclear power stations

EDF Energy extends life of four UK nuclear power stations

Steam rises at sunset from the cooling towers of the Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power station at Nogent-Sur-Seine, France.
Steam rises at sunset from the cooling towers of the Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power station at Nogent-Sur-Seine, France.

EDF Energy (EDF.PA) is to extend the life of four nuclear power plants in Britain, a measure which should help reduce an electricity supply gap looming in the coming decade.

Britain faces a power supply gap because the government plans to close coal-fired power plants by 2025, which some experts have feared could lead to electricity shortages.

The country has 15 nuclear reactors in operation which came online from the 1970s to the 1990s. Most were due to be retired by 2023 unless they got extensions.

As part of parent group EDF’s results for 2015, EDF Energy said on Tuesday it would extend the lives of its Heysham 1 and Hartlepool nuclear plants by five years to 2024 and Heysham 2 and Torness by seven years to 2030.

Together, the four nuclear stations supply around 4.7 gigawatts of electricity to Britain, or more than half of the country’s current nuclear capacity.

“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 company said in a statement.

“The carbon price floor encourages generation from low-carbon sources like nuclear while the capacity market ensures the UK has the power it needs,” it added.

EDF Energy said it invests 600 million pounds ($867 million)a year in its nuclear plants. Last year, their output was 60.6 terrawatt hours, the highest level for 10 years and 50 percent higher than in 2008 when EDF Energy acquired the plants.

Parent EDF also said on Tuesday that the investment decision on its 18 billion-pound ($26 billion) project to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point was coming closer. “Final steps are well in hand to enable the full construction phase to be launched very soon,” EDF Energy added.

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