Boost for Heysham 1 power station as it gets go-ahead to keep operating for extra two years

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Heysham 1 power station is set to keep the turbines turning for an extra two years.

The station, which marks its 40th birthday this year, was due to enter defueling by March 2024 but is now expected to keep generating zero-carbon electricity until March 2026.

Heysham 1’s Station Director, Martin Cheetham, said: “Heysham 1 has been powering the North West for 40 years and now we can help keep the lights on for even longer.

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“Today’s decision is testament to the hard work of the hundreds of skilled people who keep the site running daily and will help to preserve those vital nuclear skills.

Heysham 1 power station. Picture by Geoff HarrisHeysham 1 power station. Picture by Geoff Harris
Heysham 1 power station. Picture by Geoff Harris

“We also have an eye on the future and believe Heysham is the perfect site for new nuclear."

With two operating power stations, Heysham is the country’s largest generating nuclear site and is already on the UK Government’s list for future nuclear development.

“We look forward to seeing what part it can play as the country’s future nuclear strategy is developed,” said Mr Cheetham.

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The additional 14TWh of electricity the station could generate over the extra two-year period could help to displace 2.9bn cubic metres of gas. The carbon avoided from this displacement is 4.8m tonnes, which is like taking 2.3 million cars off the UK’s roads for a year.

Martin Cheetham, station director at Heysham 1.Martin Cheetham, station director at Heysham 1.
Martin Cheetham, station director at Heysham 1.

When EDF took responsibility for the nuclear fleet, Heysham 1 was due to stop generating in 2014. Since the acquisition in 2009, EDF has invested more than £7billion to support extended operating lifetimes across the fleet and help UK energy security.

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Over the next five years, the aim is to invest more than £1.5billion to sustain safe and reliable generation, alongside delivering defueling and ensuring all AGR stations are preparing for the next phase.

The decision has been made after a rigorous review by EDF of the technical and commercial cases for life extension.

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In particular, positive inspections of the graphite reactor cores during 2022 have increased confidence the station can generate for longer and continue to meet stringent regulatory standards.

Heysham 1 directly employs around 530 people and has 200 contractors permanently based at the site.

The estimated end of generation date for Heysham 2 currently remains unchanged at March 2028.