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The future of nuclear energy

EDF Energy's EPR under construction in France

A number of the UK’s existing coal, oil and nuclear power stations are reaching the end of their lives. The UK Government estimates that to replace the generating capacity provided by these older power stations, energy companies will need to install about 22 million kilowatts (kW) of new generating capacity by 2020.

Nuclear power is well placed to help close this energy gap as part of a diverse UK energy mix. The next generation of nuclear power stations are intended to generate secure, affordable, low-carbon electricity over their 60-year lifetimes.

Technological innovation

EDF Energy proposes to build four new nuclear plants in the UK. The proposed new plants will be based on the European pressurised water reactor (EPR) design, which EDF is currently building in France and China. The EPR combines proven technology with performance and safety innovations.

The EPR is designed to use about 17% less uranium than existing reactors for each unit of electricity it generates, which means a corresponding reduction in spent fuel per unit. The projected lifetime of an EPR is 60 years. Together, the four UK EPRs should be capable of generating up to 6.4 million kW of electricity – enough to supply around 10 million homes.

Locations for new plants

EDF Energy plans to build two of the new plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset and two at Sizewell in Suffolk, subject to the right conditions for investment being in place. The company has consulted extensively with local residents, community and other groups about the proposals for the Hinkley Point site, and plans to begin a similar consultation programme at Sizewell in due course.

Before construction on large new power stations can begin, the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) must assess the application for development consent. EDF Energy plans to apply to the IPC for development consent by the end of 2011.

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