We are talking after-life here. Oldbury has limped on for so many years past it's closure date that I cannot believe there are not massive concerns within the industry - this is wing and prayer stuff - regular blog readers will know I have very real concerns about the serious risks involved in extending still further the length of times these dinosaurs are operating - see previous post re graphite problems here.
Photo: From a game - see below!
Anyway it seems that British nuclear operator Magnox received approval from the nuclear regulator (NII) late on Tuesday to extend the lifetime of its Oldbury 2 nuclear reactor until June 30, 2011. The 220-megawatt (MW) reactor was due to shut down between Feb. 11-14 as it reached the end of its allowed generation time. The lifetime extension now brings the reactor's operations in line with Oldbury 1, which is also due to shut down at the end of June (see here).
We should hear soon from Horizon as they are expected to choose their preferred nuclear reactor design this quarter, picking either Areva and EDF's European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) or Westinghouse's AP1000 model.
On a different but related topic, I saw an interesting short presentation here about thorium as an alternative to uranium. No wars yet as the picture above might suggest - infact in that 'game' thoriums are a super alien species!! Anyway I digress a Tory councillor passed me the link and it was interesting as I had not heard so much about this. The Chinese move is particularly interesting and could be a game changer if other countries follow suit we could see a rush for thorium. From what I know it's a much better alternative for nuclear reactors and the only reason it hasn't been done is it's no good for making weapons from the by-products. More plentiful and safer and cheaper and very very much shorter lived waste.
However it doesn't exist in a commercialised form and has been generally ignored by the nuclear industry. As well as the Chinese I've heard that Norway are doing some work on Thorium reactors - see also some stuff here. This may be a hopeful technology (compared to the current nuclear plants) but likely timescales to commercialise put it a minimum of 10 years out, more like 20 - and none of that is soon enough to tackle climate change - the answer still lies in energy efficiencies and renewables...
Update June 2011: See Ecologist article here.