EDF breathe new life into nuclear plants

EDF today told the stock exchange that they were extending the life of two of their eight nuclear power stations till the end of the decade. Hartlepool and Heysham were […]

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By Sumit Bose

EDF today told the stock exchange that they were extending the life of two of their eight nuclear power stations till the end of the decade.

Hartlepool and Heysham were both built in the 1980s with thirty year life expectancy but now EDF have said they will stay on stream till 2019, five years longer than predicted securing around 700 jobs on each site and helping meet the crucial objective of retaining a skilled operational workforce. Extending the lives of its nuclear plants has remained a strategic priority for EDF since coming together with British Energy almost two years ago.

It’s been done by reducing load. Heysham was knocked down to approximately 80% of full load in October 2006 to reduce the surface temperature on an area within one of its reactors, known as the Hot Box Dome. Scientists now believe they have a solution which would allow load on Heysham to be increased to greater than 90% of full load and to significantly reduce the risk of future load restrictions over the extended life of the remaining reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool.

The intention is to implement the solution during outages over the next few years. Both stations will be reviewed again in 2016 to see if a further extension beyond 2019 is possible