French energy firm EDF has warned that it will not prolong the lifespan of the Hinkley Point B nuclear power station in Somerset. The nuclear project which consists of two ageing reactors is set to shut down on 8th July and 1st August. However, in light of the global fossil fuel energy crisis that has resulted in skyrocketing household bills, the Government has mulled keeping the reactor open.
With the UK vowing to end the imports of Russian oil by the end of the year as a response to the invasion of Ukraine, ministers have been warned that the country could face severe electricity shortages.
In light of these shortages, ministers have reportedly drawn up plans that could result in six million households facing “rationing” of electricity.
To bolster supplies, the UK has tried to keep ageing nuclear reactors and coal plants open, despite plans to shut them down this year.
However, EDF has refused to back this plan, with the company reportedly sending a memo to staff, stating that would no postpose the shutdown of the two Hinkley Point B reactors.
Since opening nearly five decades ago, the power plant generated 310TWh since 1976 – enough to power 27 million homes for three years.
An EDF spokesperson said: “As confirmed in November 2020, Hinkley Point B nuclear power station will stop generating and move into the defueling phase by 1 August 2022.
“It has reliably produced zero-carbon electricity for over 46 years – more than 15 years longer than envisaged when built – and will complete its generating phase as the most productive nuclear site the UK has ever had.”
According to a report from the Times, Government modelling of a “reasonable” worst-case scenario has predicted significant gas shortages in winter if Russian President Vladimir Putin decides to cut off more supplies to the EU.
In an effort to stave off such shortages, Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has written to the heads of three of Britain’s remaining coal-fired power stations to ask them to stay open for longer than planned.
These coal-fired power stations were set to shut down in September under the country’s plans to phase out coal by 2024 to reduce emissions.