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Nuclear engineers at Heysham power station

Investment boost to maintain UK nuclear output at current levels until at least 2026

By EDF | Posted January 09, 2024

EDF manages the UK’s eight nuclear power station sites, five that are generating (Sizewell B, Torness, Heysham 2, Heysham 1, Hartlepool) and three that are defueling (Hunterston B, Hinkley Point B and Dungeness B) and is issuing its annual fleet update on 9 January 2024.

  • EDF plans to invest a further £1.3billion in the UK’s five generating nuclear power stations over 2024-26, taking the total invested in the fleet to nearly £9billion since 2009.
  • UK nuclear output in 2023 was 37.3TWh, 15% lower than 2022 due to station closures and statutory outages but nearly four times the forecast when EDF acquired the fleet in 2009. 
  • EDF plans to maintain output around this level until at least 2026. This improved outlook has been driven by life extensions announced for Heysham 1 and Hartlepool in March 2023.
  • The ambition is to further extend the lives of the four generating AGR stations, subject to inspections and regulatory approvals; a decision will be taken by the end of 2024.
  • Through its nuclear operations business, EDF will pay around £600million in taxes for 2023, including £200million through the new Electricity Generator Levy.

EDF’s plans to invest a further £1.3billion in the UK’s five generating nuclear power stations over the 2024-26 period will help sustain output at current levels, boost energy security and cut carbon emissions. The more positive fleet outlook, and major new build programme, means EDF plans to hire over 1,000 people in 2024 across its various UK nuclear businesses.

The future investment plan for the operating fleet comes 15 years after EDF’s acquisition of British Energy PLC, a period in which £7.5billion (equivalent to £270 per household) has already been invested in the UK’s eight nuclear power stations, alongside major investment into the Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C projects. Three of those eight stations are now in the defueling phase, the first stage of decommissioning.

Without EDF’s investment and expertise, Sizewell B power station would be the only operational nuclear power station in the UK today and nuclear would provide just 3% of the UK’s power consumption rather than the 13% it does account for. This would have meant even more reliance on gas, higher energy prices for customers and more carbon in the atmosphere. 

Dr Mark Hartley, Managing Director of EDF’s Nuclear Operations business, said “EDF has built a strong track record of safely operating the UK’s existing nuclear fleet, delivering over 35% more clean power than initially forecast. Looking ahead, our aim is to maintain output from the four AGR stations for as long as possible and extend Sizewell B by a further 20 years, out to 2055. Maximising output also helps preserve the critical nuclear skills and capabilities that will be valuable for future nuclear projects.”

EDF’s 15-year investment in the UK nuclear fleet has delivered the following benefits:

  • The stations have generated over 35% more electricity than initially forecast at the time of acquisition, through successful life extensions and improved operational performance
  • This extra output (212TWh) is enough to power all UK homes continuously for 2 years and has saved an additional 74million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, compared to gas-fired power
  • Sustained employment for over 4,000 critical operational and technical skills, while the UK’s new nuclear programme begins to take shape, as well as thousands of jobs in the supply chain. Over 500 people have transferred from operations to Hinkley Point C in the last decade.
  • Additional tax payments to Government under the new Electricity Generators Levy (EGL) are estimated to be over £600million over the 2023-2025 period; for 2023 they will be around £200million, with EDF’s average realised price at £90 per MWh.

Following the scheduled end of generation at three stations across 2021-22, nuclear power generation in 2023 totalled 37.3 TWh and the objective is to keep it around this level until at least 2026. This medium-term forecast is 40% higher than estimated last year and is driven by the decision in March 2023 to extend generating lifetimes at Hartlepool and Heysham 1 power stations (combined 2.2GW capacity) by a further two years, to a current forecast of March 2026. Heysham 2 and Torness power stations (2.4GW) are currently due to generate until March 2028. These AGR lifetimes will be reviewed again by the end of 2024 and the ambition is to generate beyond these current forecasts, subject to plant inspections and regulatory approvals.

Sizewell B power station in Suffolk has so far generated over 250TWh in its 29 years of operation and has the potential to generate for at least a further 20 years beyond its current end of generation date of 2035. EDF is investing in the station to allow a final investment decision to be taken on this during 2025; securing a sustainable commercial model is necessary to enable such a decision.

As well as the positive impact on energy security and carbon emissions, the revised output forecast is good news for nuclear skills as it helps to sustain many of the fleet’s 5,000 jobs for longer, especially in Lancashire and on Teesside which are also two of the Government’s eight designated sites for new nuclear development. 

EDF is also responsible for defueling the AGR power stations, three of which have entered this phase since mid-2021. Hunterston B is already more than halfway through defueling and Hinkley Point B is over a quarter of the way through; both these stations are due to transfer to Nuclear Restoration Services (formerly Magnox) in 2026 for long term decommissioning. Dungeness B power station started defueling operations in May 2023. Under the 2021 decommissioning agreement with the Government, EDF will defuel the stations and NRS will manage the long-term programme. Funding for this is provided through the Nuclear Liabilities Fund (NLF), which had a fund size of £20.4billion at 31 March 2023.


Contact: Fiona McCall (Senior External Affairs Manager), fiona.mccall@edf-energy.com, 07813 232 347.

Notes to Editors: 

Downloads

EDF UK Fleet Stakeholder Update 2023/4

About EDF

EDF is helping Britain achieve Net Zero by leading the transition to a cleaner, low emission, electric future and tackling climate change. It is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity(1) and supplies millions of customers with electricity and gas.

It generates low carbon electricity from five nuclear power stations and more than thirty onshore wind farms and two offshore wind farms.

EDF is leading the UK's nuclear renaissance with the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, and there are advanced plans for a replica at Sizewell C in Suffolk. Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C will provide low carbon electricity to meet 14% of UK demand and power around 12 million homes.

EDF is one of the UK’s largest investors in renewables, with more than 1GW of renewable generation in operation and over 5GW in construction, planning and development across a range of technologies including onshore and offshore wind, solar and battery storage. We are constructing our largest offshore wind farm in Britain – the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe project in Scotland.

EDF is helping its customers, both in business and at home, take their first steps to sustainably powering their lives. Whether it is buying an electric car, generating and storing electricity, selling energy back to the grid or installing a heat pump. EDF is one of the largest suppliers to British business and a leading supplier of innovative energy solutions that are helping businesses become more energy independent. In addition, the company’s energy services business, Dalkia, is one of the largest technical service providers in the UK and Ireland.

EDF is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. In the UK, the company employs around 14,000 people at locations across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

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