As this generation of nuclear technology concludes, what’s next to replace this essential source of low carbon power?
For decades, the UK’s nuclear fleet has been safely generating zero carbon electricity to power millions of homes across the country, serving not only as a reliable low carbon power supply but as a major employer too.
At some point, however, every nuclear plant reaches the end of its generating life and enters the next phase of the lifecycle when we turn our focus to safely removing the fuel.
After nearly half a century, we’re starting to reach this point with EDF’s advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) nuclear plants. From Hunterston in Scotland to Dungeness on the south coast of England, seven sites with 14 gas-cooled reactors between them will end generation by 2030 and move into decommissioning.
We take this part of the nuclear lifecycle as seriously as we do its generating life. After years of intense preparation and negotiation, last week the Government announced the completion of a revised set of arrangements to deliver safe, lower cost and more efficient decommissioning of the seven AGRs once they stop generating power.
Under the agreements, we will defuel the AGRs ensuring safe and cost-effective delivery of fuel-free reactors that are ready for decommissioning by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). To do this, we will draw on the expertise of the brilliant teams at the sites who know AGR technology better than anybody else and will utilise the same professionalism that kept the plants generating for as long as they did to safely complete this important task on behalf of the UK.
We cannot underestimate the magnitude of the milestone we’ve reached. Currently EDF’s nuclear fleet represents nearly a fifth of Britain’s energy needs. By 2030, our nuclear generating capacity will comprise Sizewell B and Hinkley Point C, which is due to start generation in 2026.
We’ve made it our mission to help Britain achieve Net Zero and will continue to do all we can to help make that a reality. The transition of our existing generation fleet brings into focus the need for continued progress for Sizewell C. Without it and more electricity generation from wind and solar, the UK will be increasingly reliant on gas and interconnectors to meet electricity demand.
As this generation of nuclear technology concludes, we are mindful of the need for the next generation of nuclear power that will reliably provide the next half a century with zero carbon electricity.
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