EDF Energy has announced that it intends to extend the expected operating life of two of its UK nuclear power stations by seven years. It has completed all the necessary technical, safety and economic evaluation and received the relevant external consents for the work.

Hinkley Point B in Somerset and Hunterston B in Ayrshire, Scotland, are now expected to remain operational until at least 2023, EDF said. Both units will continue to operate at approximately 70% load owing to boiler temperature restrictions.

The recent decision follows the five year extensions to Heysham 1 and Hartlepool announced in 2010 and come after extensive reviews of the plants’ safety cases and continuing work with the independent nuclear regulator.

The life extension is in line with EDF Energy’s strategic target, announced in February this year, which aims to secure plant life extensions by an average of seven years for the AGR fleet and 20 years for Sizewell B, the UK’s only pressurised water reactor.

Commenting on the news EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said: “We continue to invest £300 million each year on capital expenditure in the nuclear fleet, and we spend an additional £350 million on plant operations with 90 per cent of the total being spent in the UK. Extending the plants’ lives also brings significant training and employment opportunities for a new generation of nuclear engineers and operators…”

“Life extension does not replace the need for new low carbon generation. Even as we agree to extend the life of our existing plants, we are moving forward with plans to create the next generation of nuclear power stations.”