EDF Energy today said that it would begin the defuelling phase of Dungeness B nuclear power station in Kent, seven years ahead of schedule.
The 1.2 gigawatt power station at Romney Marsh has been offline since 2018 due to “a range of unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges”, the energy giant said.
But after discovering new “station-specific risks”, EDF said that it had “taken a decision not to restart the plant but to move it into the defuelling stage”.
Initially, the plant was scheduled to close in 2008, but was given two 10-year extensions.
EDF said that the plant had powered every home in Kent for 50 years and helped the UK avoid the emission of almost 50m tonnes of carbon dioxide.
John Benn, station director at Dungeness B said: “This power station has been a cornerstone of life in Kent for decades. It is a very special place and the team has a real sense of family – we are part of the community.
“EDF has had to make a hard decision – but it is the right one. It gives our teams, our community and our business a clear understanding of the future.”
Defuelling is the first stage of decommissioning a power plant. By 2030, all seven of EDF’s nuclear plants – and the UK’s nuclear fleet – will be in the process of decommissioning.
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association said the decision to retire the plant early showed how important it was that the UK invest in new nuclear projects.
“If this base of firm power is not replaced, we will have to rely on gas to stabilise the grid. This fossil fuel dependence will cause higher emissions and higher prices and push our climate goals further from our grasp”, he said.
“Instead, we can choose to invest in nuclear power alongside renewables to secure a green recovery and a net zero future for the UK.”