EDF Energy is planning to extend the life of four UK nuclear power stations to meet the gap between electricity supply and demand in the country, amid challenging market conditions.
The move will protect jobs of nearly 2,000 permanent staff, as well as 1,000 contractors employed at the power plants.
The life of Heysham 1 and Hartlepool nuclear power stations will be extended by five years to 2024, and Heysham 2 and Torness will be extended by seven years to 2030.
EDF Energy said that the life extension programme is being backed by government policies.
The four nuclear plants together supply 4.7GW of electricity to the country, Reuters reported.
EDF Energy invests approximately £600m in its nuclear plants every year.
In 2015, the company’s nuclear plants generated 60.6TWh of electricity, the highest level in ten years and 50% higher than in 2008 when EDF Energy acquired the stations.
EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said: "Our continuing investment, expertise and the professional relationship we have with the safety regulator means we can safely prolong the operating life of our nuclear power stations.
"Their excellent output shows that reliability is improving, whilst their safety and environmental performance is higher than ever.
"In today’s extremely challenging market conditions, our belief that government policy will be maintained and strengthened gives us the confidence to invest in our nuclear stations. This gives customers the best value low carbon electricity available."
"It’s a great achievement by thousands of EDF Energy staff and partners in the supply chain who have worked so hard to show that we can deliver on performance, reliability and safety."
The looming electricity supply gap in the country is a result of the government’s plans to shut down coal-fired power plants by 2025, reported Reuters.
EDF Energy is also planning to build a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Image: Heysham 2 turbine hall. Photo: © EDF Energy.