Electricite de France SA, Europe’s largest nuclear-reactor operator, will decide whether to extend the lives of its U.K. Hunterston B and Hinkley B plants by 2013 as the government plans to boost clean-energy power generation.
The decision will hinge on the commercial viability of the plants and successful reviews by Britain’s nuclear watchdog, a spokeswoman at EDF said today in response to queries.
“Extending the lives of our nuclear power stations makes absolute sense in terms of filling a short-term energy need while the country rightly continues toward aggressive decarbonization targets,” EDF said in an e-mailed statement. “Life extension helps with the very short-term risk but doesn’t change the need or urgency of the new nuclear program.”
The U.K. today proposed an electricity-market overhaul to increase investment in low-carbon power generation, including nuclear power. The draft law includes price guarantees first outlined last July that are designed to shield producers from swings in market prices and spur investors to build capacity.
All of the country’s nuclear reactors are due to close by 2035, leaving it short of more than 10,000 megawatts of base- load generation. EDF said this year it may extend the lives of its 14 advanced gas-cooled reactors as much as seven years on average and the life of Sizewell B plant by 20 years.
The U.K.’s Office for Nuclear Regulation completes 10-year safety reviews of all of the U.K.’s nuclear installation in the country. If plants are considered safe, they can continue operating as long as the owner deems them commercially viable.
EDF owns eight out of nine of the U.K.’s operating nuclear plants.
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