Sizewell B's life may be extended by 20 years as energy strategy revealed

Sizewell A and Sizewell B nuclear power plants - EDF hopes to have Sizewell C sitting alongside Pict

Sizewell B, with its iconic dome, could remain operational until 2055 under new plans revealed by EDF - Credit: Su Anderson

The operational life of the Sizewell B nuclear power station could be extended by at least 20 years, energy giant EDF has announced.

The power station on the Suffolk coast was due to stop producing energy from 2035, but the company said it would decide within the next two years whether it could be extended to 2055 - saying such a move would protect jobs and UK energy security.

The news comes as the Government reveals its long-awaited energy strategy, which aims to make 95% of electricity low carbon by 2030.

It has signalled an acceleration of homegrown power in Britain with the expansion of nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, oil and gas - including delivering the equivalent to one nuclear reactor a year instead of one a decade.

The Government says it remains in "constructive negotiations" with EDF on the Sizewell C project, in which it is reportedly set to invest a 20% stake.

How Sizewell C with its twin reactors could look alongside plants A and B on Suffolk's coast

How Sizewell C with its twin reactors could look alongside plants A and B on Suffolk's coast. - Credit: EDF Energy

On Wednesday night, EDF said in a statement: "As a low carbon electricity generator, Sizewell B’s long-term operation will be key in supporting the UK’s ‘Net Zero’ climate change ambition.  By 2028 Sizewell B will be the only operating nuclear power station from the existing fleet. 

"Together Sizewell B, Sizewell C and Hinkley Point C could deliver reliable low carbon power for more than 15million homes and enable the growth of the UK renewables sector."

EDF says a final decision on extending Sizewell B's life will be made in 2024, which would then be followed by the required capital investment in the plant, safety enhancements and obtaining the necessary approvals. 

Most Read

The firm says it will engage with industry regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, throughout the process.

Sizewell B has generated power on the Suffolk coast for 27 years - with EDF saying it produces enough energy to power every home in Suffolk for 178 years. The firm says it is worth £40m annually to the local economy and employs about 800 local people. 

Meanwhile, the Government has promised to take back control of energy prices with its long-awaited energy strategy which aims to make 95% of electricity low carbon by 2030.

Ministers are promising "cleaner and more affordable energy" to be made in this country by boosting wind, new nuclear, solar and hydrogen.

But Labour said the Prime Minister had "caved to his own backbenchers" and that the plan would do nothing to help the rising energy costs faced by households.

Boris Johnson said the strategy, including new nuclear and offshore wind plans, would reduce the UK's dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Under the Government's fresh plans a new body, Great British Nuclear, will be launched to bolster the UK's nuclear capacity with the hope of up to 24 gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2050 coming from the source of power, 25% of the projected electricity demand.

It is hoped the focus on nuclear will deliver up to eight reactors, equivalent to one reactor a year instead of one a decade.

The strategy also confirmed the intention to push ahead with a nuclear project at the Wylfa sites in Anglesey.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "This will reduce our dependence on power sources exposed to volatile international prices we cannot control, so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills."

EDF’s UK CEO Simone Rossi said: "Building more new nuclear will reduce Britain’s dependence on overseas gas and keep energy prices stable, creating thousands of jobs while we’re doing it.

Simone Rossi speaking at Suffolk Chamber Picture: DAVID GARRAD

Simone Rossi, of EDF - Credit: Archant

"At Hinkley Point C we’re already building British nuclear, with 3,600 British businesses and 22,000 people making it happen, including over 800 apprentices. The fastest way to get more nuclear in Britain is get on with the next two units at Sizewell C."

But Alison Downes, of Stop Sizewell C, said: "Why, with money in short supply and the need for solutions urgent, has the government placed large-scale nuclear front and centre of its Energy Strategy?

Mother-of-two, Alison Downes, who has now given up her full-time job to spearhead the campaign again

Alison Downes, of the Stop Sizewell C campaign - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"Ministers are locking the country into the most risky, slow and expensive energy infrastructure, forcing consumers to pay for it twice - a nuclear tax for construction and higher-priced electricity."

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said: "The Government could have chosen to power ahead with quick, cost-effective and fair solutions like taxing oil and gas companies' mega-profits, investing more to cut energy waste from homes, and unblocking planning barriers for cheap and popular onshore wind.

"Instead, while there are some improvements on renewables targets, they have prioritised slow solutions, dishing out rewards to vested interests in the nuclear and the oil and gas industries, which won't tackle the cost-of-living crisis or reduce our dependence on gas."