EDF Energy has extended the operating life of two of its UK nuclear power stations by seven years.

Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B are now expected to remain operational until at least 2023.

The decision follows five-year extensions to two other plants, Heysham 1 and Hartlepool, which were announced in 2010.

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “This decision will provide low carbon energy to keep the lights on in the UK and it will safeguard jobs at the plants, in the UK nuclear industry and its supply chain. It follows a thorough review of safety over the lifetime of each of the plants.”

“Extending the plants’ lives also brings significant training and employment opportunities for a new generation of nuclear engineers and operators as we seek to develop the UK’s position as a primary source for skills and expertise in the industry.

He added that “life extension does not replace the need for new low carbon generation”.

“Even as we agree to extend the life of our existing plants, we are moving forward with plans to create the next generation of nuclear power stations.”

EDF Energy said today it expects an average seven-year life extension across all its advanced gas-cooled reactor plants and a 20-year extension for Sizewell B, the only pressurised water reactor in the UK.