More nuclear power stations could close early as EDF wrestles with problems with patching up its ageing plants — just as Britain makes a big push to cut carbon emissions. The French power giant owns Britain’s fleet of eight nuclear power stations together with British Gas parent Centrica. They generated about 17% of the UK’s electricity last year. Early closure of the nuclear plants, built between the 1960s and 1980s, will heap pressure on ministers to explain how they plan to replace that electricity. Experts say the boom in electric cars will require much more zero-carbon electricity — but just one new nuclear power station is being built, Hinkley Point C, in Somerset. EDF said last month that Hunterston B in Ayrshire would close about 15 months earlier than expected, by January 2022, because of cracks in its graphite core. It is also understood to be considering the early closure of at least two more plants — Hinkley Point B in Somerset and Dungeness B in Kent. Together the three sites are capable of generating about three gigawatts of electricity — almost as much as the new Hinkley Point C. Hinkley Point B is earmarked for closure in early 2023, but EDF is understood to have warned staff in recent days that it may happen sooner. It is currently not generating while its graphite core is inspected. EDF is due to make a decision on its future in November. Dungeness B has been offline since 2018, but now there are fears that it may never reopen because of problems with its boilers, which EDF has spent about £100m trying to fix. Ministers are set to make a decision on whether to fund more nuclear stations within the coming months, with the publication of a much-delayed energy white paper.
Times 6th Sept 2020 read more »