Thursday, September 15, 2005

IOL: Another 10 years for nuclear power station

IOL: Another 10 years for nuclear power station

15/09/2005 - 14:21:17

British Energy said today it was extending the life of its Kent nuclear power station by 10 years in a move that stoked up the debate on the future of atomic energy in the UK.

The operator said the decision to keep Dungeness B open until 2018 would allow it to continue making a “powerful contribution” to the UK’s energy needs and would safeguard hundreds of jobs.

It insisted the decision would not pave the way for further extensions at its other UK nuclear power stations.

The move will increase the lifetime of the plant to 35 years – in line with many of its other sites.

British Energy, which produces around one-fifth of the UK’s electricity, has already been granted extensions to the life of six of its seven other plants.

Environmental campaigners criticised the decision, saying it had “little relevance” for the future of Britain’s energy policy.

The British government has suspended any decision on its future nuclear power policy until it resolves issues such as nuclear waste but is under pressure to cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 60% by 2050.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Roger Higman said: “Squeezing a few more years out of Dungeness B does not take away from the fact that there is no long-term future for nuclear power.”

British Energy chief executive Bill Coley said the move was important in helping the UK achieve its climate-change goals on reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

He said: “The life extension for Dungeness B is not indicative of potential for further life extensions at the company’s other nuclear power stations.”

He said tests would be carried out on other stations at least three years before their scheduled closing dates.

British Energy has seen a major improvement in output from Dungeness B in the last couple of years.

The Kent plant is one of the region’s largest employers, with more than 550 full-time staff, and brings in an estimated £30m (€44.4m) a year to the local community.

It first started supplying the National Grid in 1983 and has so far generated 75.87 terawatt hours (TWh) of power – an amount that could provide all the electricity needed for Greater London and the south-east of England for a year.


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