EDF confirms nuclear reactors may stay offline until end of the year

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EDF has confirmed that four of its UK nuclear reactors that were shut off last month for safety reasons will not fully resume operations until the end of the December, sparking fears over electricity shortages during winter.

The reactors at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool were shut down in August as an “unexpected fault”, a crack in a reactor wall, was found during a routine inspection. As both sites use similar designs of reactor, all four were subsequently closed over safety fears.

EDF has stated that a “phased return to service between the end of October and the end of December, 2014” is the only safe path to take, as this would give enough time for inspections.

National Grid has however raised concerns of a shortage of electricity this winter as they seek emergency supplies in the following months. With the two sites not operating, the UK has lost a quarter of its nuclear power capacity.

In a statement, National Grid said, “We have already taken the sensible precaution to tender for Supplementary Balancing Reserve this winter, owing to uncertainty over plant availability.

“The tender process – which does not specify volumes – is sufficiently flexible to cater for any new information from the market.”

All inspections will need to be signed off by the UK’s nuclear regulator, EDF has confirmed, but the energy giant added that an emergency plan is being completed in case a shortfall in available energy over winter occurs.

Photo source: Paul J Everett via Flickr

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