Vitality large EDF has introduced plans to increase the lives of two of the UK’s 5 remaining nuclear energy stations.
Heysham 1 and Hartlepool had been as a consequence of shut in March subsequent yr, however they may now be stored open till early 2026.
The corporate says the transfer will help vitality safety, cut back demand for imported gasoline, and cut back carbon emissions.
About 1,400 individuals work on the two websites, with lots of extra within the provide chain.
The federal government welcomed the information, with Secretary of State Grant Shapps saying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrated the “important significance” of bolstering vitality safety.
Heysham 1 and Hartlepool started working in 1983. Every has two Superior Fuel Cooled reactors, which have been initially scheduled for closure in 2014. Two earlier lifetime extensions had taken the closure date to March 2024.
The 2 energy stations at the moment account for about 5% of the nation’s electrical energy.
The announcement comes at a time when the nation’s vitality safety has been coming below intense scrutiny.
The majority of our electrical energy is generated from gasoline. Final yr, the battle in Ukraine led to a sudden spike in gasoline costs – which additionally led to a steep enhance in electrical energy payments.
Renewable technology, from wind and solar energy for instance, has been rising quickly in recent times. However the quantity obtainable to the grid can range in keeping with the time of day and the climate.
Supporters of nuclear technology argue that it supplies baseload energy – in different phrases, a predictable and steady provide – though different sources are wanted to react shortly to spikes in demand.
To forestall potential blackouts this winter, 5 ageing coal crops have been stored on standby by Nationwide Grid.
Earlier this week two of them have been ordered to start out producing energy, as a mix of excessive demand and restricted provides led to considerations about attainable shortages.
A brand new scheme below which shoppers are paid to scale back consumption at peak occasions has additionally been tried out just lately.
EDF mentioned the choice to maintain Heysham 1 and Hartlepool open had been taken following a “rigorous evaluation” of the technical and industrial circumstances for conserving them open.
It pointed to inspections of the reactor cores final yr which “elevated confidence that the stations can generate for longer and proceed to satisfy stringent regulatory requirements”.
The corporate has, nevertheless, closed three different nuclear energy stations over the previous 18 months.
Underneath present plans, even with the extensions agreed as we speak, the nation’s total fleet of AGR reactors is because of shut by 2028.
Sizewell B, a reactor constructed to a distinct design, is anticipated to stay open till 2035.
The federal government is dedicated to constructing a brand new technology of nuclear energy stations. However just one – Hinkley Level C – is at the moment below building.
The brand new £25bn plant, which has been beset by rising prices and delays, shouldn’t be anticipated to open earlier than June 2027.
An skilled group that features some vocal opponents of nuclear energy, the Worldwide Nuclear Danger Evaluation Group, mentioned in 2021 – in a report ageing nuclear energy crops – that extensions inevitably enhance the danger of accidents, together with the discharge of radioactive substances in to the atmosphere.
Heysham 1 and Hartlepool started producing energy within the Nineteen Eighties.