News Column

Energy Nuclear plants could be offline until end of year

September 5, 2014

Terry Macalister

Two nuclear power stations that play a vital role in helping to maintain Britain's already fragile electricity supply could be out of action until the end of the year, EDF Energy said yesterday. The problems at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool reactors, taken offline last month, forced Centrica, a 20% owner of the atomic fleet with EDF, to issue a profit warning.

EDF Energy said it expected the two power stations to be back in service between the end of October and the end of December, but that would be contingent on a range of factors.

"During the coming weeks the team will focus on completing the inspections and work to build a robust case for the safe continuing operation of the boilers," the company said. "This 'safety case' is subject to approval from the independent nuclear regulator."

The power outages following the discovery of a fault on a boiler "spine" at Heysham 1 have already led the National Grid to fast-forward an emergency plan to obtain more electricity from other providers to meet a possible shortfall.

The plants are out of action at a time when part of the 2GW Ferrybridge coal-fired station is also temporarily closed down owing to a fire. The margin between supply and demand inside Britain's electricity system is already low owing to the retirement of old nuclear and coal plants. Terry Macalister

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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