Two of the UK’s oldest nuclear power stations, including one in Somerset, are to remain in use until at least 2023, EDF Energy has announced.
Hinkley Point B near Bridgwater and Hunterston B in North Ayrshire started generation in 1976 but have now been given seven-year extensions to their existing decommissioning dates in 2016.
Extending the life of the stations is good news for more than 1,500 staff and contractors at the two plants, while they will continue to generate enough low carbon electricity for around two million homes.
EDF’s decision, which follows work with the independent nuclear regulator, comes amid reports that Chancellor George Osborne will announce plans for up to 30 gas-fired power stations in this week’s autumn statement.
EDF has eight nuclear power stations in the UK, with the newest being Sizewell B following its opening in 1995. The company is currently working on plans to build a new power station at the Hinkley Point site.
In 2010, five year extensions were granted to the Heysham 1 and Hartlepool stations, taking their likely decommissioning date to 2019.
Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “This decision will provide low carbon energy to keep the lights on in the UK and it will safeguard jobs at the plants, in the UK nuclear industry and its supply chain.
“It follows a thorough review of safety over the lifetime of each of the plants.”
He added that extending the plants’ lives also brought training and employment opportunities for a new generation of nuclear engineers and operators.
Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B operate at approximately 70% load due to boiler temperature restrictions.