UK producer of low-carbon electricity, EDF Energy, announced on Tuesday that it has extended the life of four nuclear power stations: Heysham 1 and Heysham 2 in Lancashire, Hartlepool in Teesside and Torness in East Lothian.
Scheduled closure dates for Heysham 1 and Hartlepool have been extended by five years to 2024, while scheduled closure dates for Heysham 2 and Torness have been extended by seven years to 2030.
All four nuclear plants supply electricity to approximately 25% of homes in the UK. The plants employ 2000 permanent staff, along with 1000 contractors. The company has also previously announced life extensions at EDF Energy’s other Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) power stations.
According to the EDF Energy, its programme has the potential to avoid 80m tonnes of C02 emissions in total, which is said to be equivalent to taking all the cars off the road in the UK for three and a half years.
EDF Energy said its UK nuclear stations have recorded exceptional performance and it has reinvested all of its operational profit back into the business. Over GBP1.3bn has been spent on its existing nuclear and coal stations, renewables and on its new nuclear project Hinkley Point C in Somerset.
The company’s underlying operating profit (EBIT) in 2015 amounted to GBP664m. Although this was 15% lower than the 2014 figure of GBP783m, the lower amount is a result of the ongoing cost of EDF Energy’s investment programme. Excluded from the underlying EBIT is a one off impairment charge of GBP796m which relates to the reduction in value of gas and coal generation and storage assets, reportedly a reflection of current challenging market conditions.
Annually, EDF Energy is investing GBP600m in its nuclear plants and this investment has resulted in output of 60.6TWh in 2015, the highest level for 10 years and 50% higher than when EDF Energy acquired the stations in 2008.
In addition, the company’s safety performance was the best ever with zero reportable nuclear events in 2015 and the number of unplanned outages dropped by more than 50% compared with 2014.
Vincent de Rivaz, CEO of EDF Energy, stated: “Our continuing investment, our expertise and the professional relationship we have with the safety regulator means we can safely prolong the operating life of our nuclear power stations. Their excellent output shows that reliability is improving whilst their safety and environmental performance is higher than ever.
“In today’s extremely challenging market conditions, our belief that Government policy will be maintained and strengthened gives us the confidence to invest in our nuclear stations. This gives customers the best value low carbon electricity available.”
“It’s a great achievement by thousands of EDF Energy staff and partners in the supply chain who have worked so hard to show that we can deliver on performance, reliability and safety.”