EDF Energy has announced it will extend the expected operating life of two of its nuclear power stations by seven years.
Hinkley Point B in Somerset and Hunterston B in North Ayrshire are now expected to remain operational until at least 2023.
According to EDF, the decision follows the five-year extensions to Heysham 1 and Hartlepool announced in 2010, and come after extensive reviews of the plants’ safety cases and continuing work with the independent nuclear regulator.
Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive officer at EDF Energy, 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.
‘We continue to invest £300m each year on capital expenditure in the nuclear fleet and we spend an additional £350m on plant operations with 90 per cent of the total being spent in the UK.
‘Extending the plants’ lives also brings significant training and employment opportunities for a new generation of nuclear engineers and operators, as we seek to develop the UK’s position as a primary source for skills and expertise in the industry.’
Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B are said to employ 73 apprentices, with around 20 new apprentices joining the scheme each year. This programme will continue throughout the extended lives of both stations. More than 1,500 people are employed at Hunterston and Hinkley, including 200 full-time contract staff at each site.
EDF Energy expects an average of seven-year life extensions across all its advanced gas-cooled reactor stations and a 20-year extension for Sizewell B, which began operating in 1995.