In this week’s Gossage Gossip, our columnist discusses EDF’s recent decision to extend the life of reactors at Heysham and Hartlepool.
It may have received considerable publicity, but frankly the announcement by Electricité de France that they intend to keep open until 2026 the (admittedly very elderly) nuclear power stations, Heysham 1 & Hartlepool PSR, was scarcely surprising. After all, as recently as 2019, the ONR (Office for Nuclear Regulation) had completed their 10-year periodic safety review covering both power stations. Subsequently the Regulator issued a Decision letter agreeing to the continued operation of the site through to 2029.
Those anxious to see such geriatric power stations closed for good have long argued that, as they are much the same vintage as both Torness and Heysham 2 power stations, they should be placed on the same closure trajectory. But the reason for the demise of those two were problems that emerged during 2021 regarding online refuelling. Certainly both Heysham 1 & Hartlepool were designed to enable online refuelling. But as in practice that facility was never used at either, that issue simply does not arise.
Existing nuclear power stations become more and more cost-effective in return-on-capital terms, the longer they run. There is no history of undue concerns about safety yet for either of these two. In that rather vulgar phrase, effectively they go until they blow. Or preferably, until immediately before doing so.