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EDF Energy aims to extend life of UK nuclear power plants

 EDF Energy aims to extend the life of its nuclear plants in Britain and invest a further 1.3 billion pounds ($1.7 billion) in its operational UK nuclear fleet to maintain output at current levels and energy security, the firm said on Tuesday.

Several countries in Europe, including France, Belgium and Sweden, have announced plans to extend the operating lives of ageing nuclear reactors due to fears about a power supply crunch in the next few years.

In the European Union and Britain, most reactors were built in the 1970s and 1980s and were commissioned to last about 30 years.

EDF said it aims to keep four advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) plants running longer than planned – Torness, Heysham 1 and 2 and Hartlepool – subject to regulatory approval and will make a decision by the end of this year.

Last year, it extended the life of its Hartlepool and Heysham 1 nuclear plants by two years to 2026.

It is also examining the potential for its Sizewell B plant to run for 20 years longer than scheduled. That plant is a pressurised water reactor-type plant and has a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts (GW).

The firm hopes to take a final investment decision on this next year but said a sustainable commercial model would be necessary.

With the extra investment announced on Tuesday, EDF will have invested 9 billion pounds in its UK nuclear fleet since 2009.

“Looking ahead, our aim is to maintain the output of the four AGR stations for as long as possible and extend Sizewell B by a further 20 years out to 2055,” said Mark Hartley, managing director of EDF’s nuclear operations business.

EDF Energy operates five nuclear plants in Britain which generate electricity and three which are defuelling due to decommissioning.

The output of EDF’s UK nuclear fleet was 37.3 terawatt hours last year, 15% lower than the year before due to station closures and statutory outages. The company aims to maintain output at 2023’s level until at least 2026.

While building a new nuclear plant can take decades and cost billions of euros, investing in a lifetime extension can be done for less money and take place gradually.

The cost of EDF’s new nuclear plant in south-west England, Hinkley Point C, has spiralled and it is not expected to come online until at least 2027.

Another new plant in south-east England – Sizewell C – is not expected to be operational until mid-2034.

Source: Reuters