Suffolk's Sizewell B nuclear power station could run for another 20 years
The company behind Sizewell B power station is looking to extend its operating life for 20 more years.
Sizewell B is one of seven nuclear power stations in the UK and it provides 3% of the country's electricity.
Under current plans the Suffolk nuclear station would wind up by 2035, but its operator EDF Energy has now said it will make a decision by 2024 whether that should be extended to 2055.
The announcement coincides with the publishing of the government’s new energy strategy, announced on Thursday, which focuses on wind, solar, hydrogen and new nuclear.
Paul Morton, EDF's chief nuclear officer, said: “Sizewell B power station is an important national asset that helps deliver clean, independent energy supplies.”
“EDF is actively exploring a 20-year life extension opportunity to take output to 2055. A final investment decision is anticipated by 2024.”
Robert Gunn, Sizewell B station director, said: “I am proud of our local team at the power station and the work they do to ensure Sizewell B continues to generate the low carbon electricity that we all depend upon.”
However, nuclear power is hugely controversial.
Critics say it is too expensive, creates radioactive waste, poses a security risk and is too destructive to the surrounding areas.
Its supporters argue its reliability and efficiency make it a cleaner fuel worth investing in.
EDF said the it would speak to industry regulators the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency throughout the process.
It added: "Equipment will be systematically checked and the station and partners will identify the areas where investment will be required to maintain safe and reliable generation, should the decision be taken to extend the station’s life to 2055."
EDF said that Sizewell B, which employs about 800 people, is worth £40m annually to the local economy.