Belinda Bennett, Editor
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Hinkley B to power around two million homes until at least 2023. Energy Minister John Hayes hails EDF Energy decision as “absolutely fantastic news”. At least 1,100 jobs secured.
EDF Energy is to extend the operating life of its Hinkley Point B nuclear power station by seven years.
The decision means the station will generate low carbon electricity until at least 2023, providing power to around two million homes.
EDF is also to extend the operating life of another power station, Hunterston B, securing a total of more than 1,000 jobs.
Energy Minister John Hayes MP has hailed the announcement as “fantastic news”.
In a statement, released half an hour ago, he said: “It is absolutely fantastic news for our energy security that these two nuclear power stations will continue generating vast amounts of electricity into the 2020s.
“This decision will also secure hundreds of skilled jobs in both Somerset and North Ayrshire, highlighting the value of nuclear energy to our economy and society.”
Initially due to be decommissioned in 2016, the power station serves much of the South West.
EDF Energy’ chief executive, Vincent de Rivaz, made the announcement as he re-opened the visitor centre for Hinkley Point B in nearby Bridgwater – part of an initiative to make the nuclear industry more open and accessible for local communities.
He 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. It follows a thorough review of safety over the lifetime of each of the plants.
“We continue to invest £300 million each year on capital expenditure in the nuclear fleet, and we spend an additional £350 million 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.”
Mr de Rivaz added: “Life extension does not replace the need for new low carbon generation. Even as we agree to extend the life of our existing plants, we are moving forward with plans to create the next generation of nuclear power stations.”
Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B employ 73 apprentices, with around 20 new apprentices joining the scheme each year.
The programme is set to continue throughout the extended lives of both stations.
A total of 1,500 plus 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, the only Pressurised Water Reactor in the UK.
This would increase the amount of CO2 avoided by 340 million tonnes - the equivalent of removing all cars from UK roads for nearly five years.
Historically, Hinkley has always had the strongest community recognition. Over 1,000 visitors have already visited the station this year.