The “dash for gas” and the nuclear option

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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.


3 thoughts on “The “dash for gas” and the nuclear option

    Florian Hirschbichler said:
    December 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Why do they have to replace 5.8 GW, when only 0.49 GW will go offline?


      Robert Wilson said:
      December 4, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Now corrected. Just a typo.


    Chris Vernon said:
    December 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    There’s nothing ‘identical’ about the design of our AGR fleet, each has its own unique design features. I don’t think it’s safe to assume other reactors will gain the same life extensions – the full power on hours which is what ages the cores – varies across the fleet. It’s also typical that extensions are granted only at the reduced output. For example, the two extensions today are the second extensions granted to these two early AGRs. Since the first extension, they’ve been running at between 70 and 80% capacity.


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