Hinkley Point B power station near Burnham-On-Sea may close two years earlier than planned due to ageing issues, EDF Energy has said this week.
EDF was due to begin decommissioning in Hinkley Point B in 2023. Inspections have found cracks in the reactor core’s graphite bricks and the boilers inside the reactors are coming to the end of their life.
The company is reviewing the results and will make a decision at the end of the year.
Hinkley Point B, a one gigawatt (GW) plant, began operation in 1976.
EDF Energy has said the number of cracked bricks is well below the tolerance level but this has made the firm reconsider when the decommissioning process can begin.
Normally it takes several years to fully close down a reactor.
An EDF spokesman said this week: “Hinkley Point B is due to stop generating in early 2023, though it is possible we may need to move into de-fuelling within the next two years.”
Nearly all of Britain’s 9 GW nuclear fleet is composed of advanced gas-cooled reactors where the reactor core is built using graphite bricks.
“Based on current forecasts, four of the UK’s eight operating nuclear power stations are due to move into decommissioning by March 2024. This has been the case for several years,” added the spokesman.
EDF Energy is currently building Hinkley Point C, which is due to be operational in 2025.