EDF’s Dungeness B nuclear power station in Kent has been placed into the defuelling phase of decommissioning with immediate effect.
The power station has been in extended outage since September 2018 and during this time EDF has managed ‘a range of unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges that are not found at the other six AGR power stations’.
A number of those challenges were overcome but faults remained within some key components, including parts within the fuel assemblies, the company said.
Consequently, EDF has cancelled restart of the plant and moved it into defueling, which is the first stage of decommissioning a nuclear power station.
Dungeness B came online in 1983 and final generation of electricity in 2018 means the plant ran for 10 years longer than its original design life.
Construction began at Dungeness B in 1967 and the plant connected to the electricity grid in 1983. The original design life was 2008 and this was extended following investment in the plant. According to EDF, Dungeness had its most successful year in 2016, generating enough energy to meet the needs of two million homes.
In a statement, John Benn, station director at Dungeness B said: “EDF has had to make a hard decision – but it is the right one. This marks the beginning of the next chapter in this station’s story. We will now plan the defuelling operations, a job we expect will take several years, and one that provides ongoing opportunities for our staff and their specialist skills.”
Commenting on EDF’s announcement Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association said: “Despite its difficulties, the plant has been of one of the ten most productive low-carbon assets in UK history.
“Its retirement underscores the urgency of investing in new nuclear capacity to hit net zero: in less than three years, more than half of our nuclear fleet will be gone. If this base of firm power is not replaced, we will have to rely on gas to stabilise the grid. This fossil fuel dependence will cause higher emissions and higher prices and push our climate goals further from our grasp.”