Nuclear operator EDF has announced that it is to keep the Heysham 1 and Hartlepool nuclear power units operating until 2026, two years longer than previously planned.
Heysham 1 (Image: EDF)
Both the plants, in the north of England, have been operating for 40 years and EDF announced last September it was reviewing the case for a "short extension" given the impact of the Russian war with Ukraine and energy price rises.
Hartlepool, on Teeside in the northeast of England, and Heysham 1, in Lancashire in northwest England, are among the four of seven AGR fleet which continue to generate electricity, and were due to continue doing so until March 2024.
In a statement, EDF said: "The decision has been made after a rigorous review by EDF of the technical and commercial cases for life extension. In particular, positive inspections of the graphite reactor cores during 2022 have increased confidence that the stations can generate for longer and continue to meet stringent regulatory standards."
Matt Sykes, Managing Director of EDF’s Generation business said: “Our ongoing investment and careful stewardship of the UK nuclear fleet since 2009 has allowed us to make today’s decision and helps support the UK’s energy security at this challenging time. As well as helping the UK reduce its use of imported gas, it is also great news for the 2000 skilled people whose jobs are supported by these sites and will help preserve valuable technical and operational skills that will be critical as the UK seeks to re-build its nuclear capability."
EDF says the 29TWh of electricity these stations could generate over the two-year period could help to displace 6 billion cubic metres of gas, in carbon emission terms "like taking 5 million cars off the UK’s roads for a year".