EDF plans to extend life of UK nuclear fleet

EDF Energy has announced a £1.3 billion investment to extend the operational life of its UK nuclear fleet, aiming to maintain current output levels

Big Zero Report 2023

EDF Energy has unveiled plans to invest an additional £1.3 billion in its existing UK nuclear fleet, aiming to extend the operational life of its plants.

EDF oversees eight nuclear power station sites in the UK, comprising five operational plants (Sizewell B, Torness, Heysham 2, Heysham 1, Hartlepool) and three in the refuelling phase (Hunterston B, Hinkley Point B and Dungeness B).

The focus is on extending the lifespan of four advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) plants – Torness, Heysham 1 and 2 and Hartlepool, pending regulatory approval, with a decision expected by year-end.

EDF is also exploring the possibility of extending the operating life of its Sizewell B plant by 20 years.

The move aligns with the trend in Europe, where several countries are extending the life of ageing nuclear reactors to address potential power supply concerns in the coming years.

Dr Mark Hartley, Managing Director of EDF’s Nuclear Operations business, said: “EDF has built a strong track record of safely operating the UK’s existing nuclear fleet, delivering over 35% more clean power than initially forecast.

“Looking ahead, our aim is to maintain output from the four AGR stations for as long as possible and extend Sizewell B by a further 20 years, out to 2055. Maximising output also helps preserve critical nuclear skills and capabilities that will be valuable for future nuclear projects.”

Reacting to EDF’s ambition to extend the lives of the UK’s nuclear power stations, Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “EDF’s unprecedented investment in our nuclear fleet has helped preserve it as a bedrock of our energy security.

“Their ambition to extend the four AGR stations further if possible, should be widely welcomed – as it will cut gas imports, cut carbon and relieve winter pressures on our shaky grid. EDF invests by far the most of any company in British low carbon energy, and their stewardship of our nuclear fleet has helped keep the lights on for much longer than was originally envisaged.

“While lifetime extensions will help in the short term, they won’t address the medium and long-term issues of a fleet getting close to retirement – what we now need is for the government to get Sizewell C to a Final Investment Decision swiftly, and set out a plan for a new fleet of stations large and small to maintain nuclear’s contribution to our energy security and economic prosperity for the future.”

Make sure you check out the latest Net Hero Podcast episode: