UPDATE 1-EDF to extend UK Dungeness B nuclear plant to 45 years

Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:34am EST

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LONDON Feb 13 (Reuters) - Britain's Dungeness B nuclear power plant in Kent could continue operating until 2028 if it is approved for a 10-year extension, operator EDF Energy said, pushing its years in service to 45.

The extension would mean that all eight of EDF Energy's nuclear plants would generate until at least 2023, when the utility plans to open a new nuclear station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. It would push the average extension of the seven oldest plants to eight years.

"EDF Energy now expects to achieve a 10-year life extension for Dungeness B to 2028, subject to receiving the necessary approvals anticipated by the end of 2014," the French state-controlled utility said on Thursday.

Every 10 years nuclear operators must submit a so-called periodic safety review to the nuclear regulator, which then decides whether a station is safe to run for the additional time requested.

Extensions also typically mean that companies can profit from cheap generating costs, after having recouped the heavy capital costs of building a plant years before. The two reactors at Dungeness B have a generation capacity of 1,040 megawatts.

The company in 2012 already added another seven years to the operational lifetime of its Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B nuclear plants. The other five plants were built later.

Britain is counting on replacing its ageing fleet of nuclear reactors with new stations to maintain power output and to lower carbon emissions.

Seven of EDF Energy's nuclear power plants are powered by Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors. The newest Sizewell B, which uses the more advanced Pressurised Water Reactor design, is expected to operate until 2055.

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