EDF Energy has revealed investment plans to extend the lives of its operational nuclear power plants in the UK.

The French state-owned energy provider said it plans to invest a further £1.3bn in the UK's five generating nuclear power stations over the 2024-26 period to help sustain output at current levels, boost energy security and cut carbon emissions.

Subject to regulatory approval EDF's plans would see its advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) at the Torness, Heysham 1 and 2 and Hartlepool plants maintain output at current levels for "as long as possible". The company, which retains its major nuclear technical skills base in Gloucester, is also examining the potential for its Sizewell B plant to run for 20 years longer than scheduled.

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Dr Mark Hartley, managing director of EDF’s Nuclear Operations business, said: “EDF has built a strong track record of safely operating the UK’s existing nuclear fleet, delivering over 35% more clean power than initially forecast. Looking ahead, our aim is to maintain output from the four AGR stations for as long as possible and extend Sizewell B by a further 20 years, out to 2055. Maximising output also helps preserve the critical nuclear skills and capabilities that will be valuable for future nuclear projects.”

In addition, a more positive fleet outlook, and major new build programme, means EDF plans to hire over 1,000 people in 2024 across its various UK nuclear businesses.

The future investment plan for the operating fleet comes 15 years after EDF’s acquisition of British Energy, a period in which £7.5bn has already been invested in the UK’s eight nuclear power stations, alongside major investment into the Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C projects. Three of those eight stations are now in the defueling phase, the first stage of decommissioning.

The output of EDF's UK nuclear fleet was 37.3 terawatt hours last year, 15% lower than the year before due to station closures and statutory outages. The company said it aimed to maintain output at 2023's level until at least 2026.

EDF said it hopes to make a decision on the viability of these investment plans by the end of the year.