British Gas-owner Centrica has said it will extend of the lifespan of two nuclear power stations in the UK.
Heysham 1 and Hartlepool nuclear power stations (pictured) are now expected to close in March 2026 – two years later than previously forecast.
The extensions are expected to add 6TWh to Centrica’s electricity generation volumes between 2024 and 2026 which equates to around 70 per cent of Centrica’s total nuclear volumes in 2022, the company said in a regulatory announcement to investors.
The extension comes amid turbulence and high prices in the gas and power markets following the invasion of Ukraine.
The plants have a combined capacity of 2.3 gigawatts and currently provide around 5 per cent of Britain’s power supply.
Hartlepool, which has been generating energy since 1983, was originally expected to shut down in 2009 but was given permission by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) for an extension of five years in 2007, meaning that it could continue to generate until 2014. This was then extended a further two times until 2024 prior to the latest extension.
Heysham 1 also began operating in 1983, and in 2016 it broke the world record for longest continuous operation of a nuclear generator without a shutdown.
Chris O’Shea, Centrica group chief executive said: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to work with EDF to strengthen the UK’s energy security by extending the life of these critical power stations.
“This continues our action to bolster security of supply in our core markets which includes reopening the Rough gas storage facility in the UK, sanctioning new gas-fired electricity generation capacity in Ireland, and securing increased volumes of gas and renewable power for our customers. We will continue to focus on supporting energy security in our core markets during these uncertain times.”
Centrica holds a 20 per cent stake in the plants through a joint venture with EDF, which operates them.
Last month, Centrica saw its profits more than treble to over £3bn for 2022 amid rocketing energy prices that have sparked a cost-of-living crisis.
National Grid has not been shy about allowing extensions for ageing power stations in light of the current difficulties faced by the power sector.
Two plants at Drax’s site in North Yorkshire and one at West Burton in Lincolnshire were originally going to be retired but had their lives extended through the winter as a precautionary measure.
In January, the plants were placed on standby as sub-zero temperatures increased electricity demand, although they were ultimately not needed.
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Original Source: https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2023/03/shutdown-of-two-nuclear-power-stations-delayed-until-2026/