MORE than 700 nuclear jobs in Hartlepool have been safeguarded after EDF Energy announced it will extend generation from four of its United Kingdom nuclear power stations by up to seven years.
The announcement, EDF Energy said, follows extensive technical and safety reviews of the plants which have been shared with the Office for Nuclear Regulation. Gary Smith, Secretary GMB Scotland, added “The extension for Torness to 2030 demonstrates that Scotland is and will remain dependent on nuclear power for base load electricity”.
The decision to postpone the sites’ closure will come as a relief to Britain’s energy industry, given the four plants provide electricity to approximately 25% of UK’s homes at a time when energy supply is increasingly tight, as a number of old plants have been closed over the past few years.
“At a time when UK government policy is causing other power stations in Scotland and across the UK to close prematurely and deterring investment in key renewables we will continue to make the point to the UK government that we are very concerned about the security of supply in Scotland”.
A major Scottish nuclear power plant has had its operating life extended by seven years.
Rumours of EDF’s difficulties in finding funding for Hinkley Point have gained some credence after it admitted today that it lost nearly 300,000 customer accounts past year as the business faced “extremely challenging market conditions”. They need to understand that opposition to Hinkley C has grown in Britain.
A “source familiar with the situation” told Reuters that a new internal report by Yannick d’Escatha, the former head of France’s state nuclear agency CEA, raised “serious doubts about whether the Hinkley Point C project could be realised on schedule“.
Before a final investment decision is taken, EDF said it would need to finalise its financing plan and contribution by CGN of guarantees for its own financing; receive approval by the both boards; receive clearance by merger control and other governmental authorities in China and Europe; and finalise contractual documentation based on agreements signed in October 2015.
“Hinkley Point C is a strong project which is fully ready for a final investment decision and successful construction”, EDF said on 16 February.
Shares in EDF rose more than 10 per cent on news it was extending the life of its United Kingdom nuclear assets.
“If the plan to finance the building of this station by the French and Chinese governments is no longer viable then the United Kingdom government has total responsibility to the people of this country to build the power stations needed to supply our electricity needs”.
Including contractors around 3,800 people work across the four sites. The UK government cannot outsource the building of our power stations to foreign governments.
EDF’s boss Jean-Bernard Levy said a verdict on Hinkley Point was “coming closer”.
However experts were sceptical the facility would ever get built at all. “The UK Government needs to refocus on energy efficiency and renewables instead of continuing to chase the nuclear dream”.