WNISR, 10 June 2021
On 7 June 2021, EDF Energy, to the surprise of many, announced that it would not seek to restart the two reactors at its Dungeness B nuclear power plant in Kent, United Kingdom.
The Dungeness B nuclear power plant will remain closed. — Photo EDF
The station had not operated since September 2018—and was thus considered by WNISR in Long-Term Outage (LTO)—while EDF was “managing a range of unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges”.
As recently as October 2020, EDF stated that they had “made major progress towards restarting our reactors”, and that they were expecting the two Advanced Gas Reactors (AGR), to restart operating in February 2021 and then continue production until 2028. However, analysis by EDF was said to have highlighted further problems including in parts of the fuel assemblies, while the BBC reported that although EDF had spent GB£100 million (US$141 million) on repairs, problems were found with boilers inside the reactors that could not be replaced.
The two reactors began operation in 1983 and 1985 respectively and were part of a fleet of seven pairs of AGR reactors in the country, the remaining six pairs and one Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) make up the U.K.’s current fleet. However, EDF recently confirmed that both units at Hunterston B will also be permanently closed by 7 January 2022 “at the latest”, while the two reactors at Hinkley Point B, are scheduled to generate their last kilowatthours “no later than” 15 July 2022.
The closure of the six AGRs will undoubtedly be a blow for EDF, and although they had all operated longer than was originally envisaged, age related problems are curtailing the lifetime-extension plans developed by the company.