The UK Government is apparently considering allowing up to 30 new gas plants to be built, reports today’s Daily Telegraph. The short term reason for new gas capacity is that a lot of coal and nuclear capacity is expected to go offline this decade.
The second part of this equation now increasingly appears to be wrong. By coincidence, or maybe not, EDF today announced that two of their nuclear power plants will have their lives extended by 7 years. Instead of being closed in 2016 they will now run to at least 2023.
Prior to EDF’s announcement a total of 6.3 GW of UK nuclear capacity was expected to go offline this decade. However, it is now highly probable that only 0.49 GW of this capacity will go offline this decade. The reactors of identical design to the EDF reactors should get life extensions, but the one remaining Magnox reactor probably won’t.
So, instead of having to replace 6.3 GW of nuclear capacity this decade, the UK will probably only have to replace 0.49 GW. This may significantly reduce the political pressure on a dash for gas, and should be welcomed.