EDF has announced that it is extending the lives of its 4 remaining AGR nuclear power stations that had not so far been extended. The move, which was widely expected given the extensions previously announced at its older stations and its stated intentions, will be strongly welcomed by Government as well as the industry given the delays in the new nuclear programme.
The older two stations concerned, Heysham 1 and Hartlepool will be extended for 5 years and are now scheduled to close in 2024. The newest AGRs in the fleet Heysham 2 and Torness will be extended for 7 years and are now scheduled to close in 2030. The Office of Nuclear Regulation has been fully informed of the moves and has all the technical and safety evaluations.
These moves mean that, even with delays in new build, at least 3 nuclear power stations will be online throughout the 2020s.
In its announcement EDF has restated its commitment to new build at Hinkley Point C and said that “steps are well in hand to enable the full construction phase to be launched very soon.” There has been speculation that EDF is struggling to raise its share of the construction cost. However, Nuclear Matters understands that it has more to do with final negotiations with their Chinese partners (CGN) with each side naturally wishing to ensure the best value for itself. Certainly given the amount of money already invested in the project (believed to be around £2billion) the chances that the company would be willing to write this off are very small.