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Scots May Extend Life of Nuclear Plants Before Renewable Target

Scotland may extend the life of the country’s two nuclear plants, which are operated by Electricite de France SA, to help the transition to producing all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The Scottish government said today it still plans to phase out nuclear power over time and rely on cleaner thermal energy to reduce carbon emissions, according to an e-mailed statement setting out its draft energy strategy. It said it was on track to meet the target in eight years time.

“This does not preclude extending the operating life of Scotland’s existing nuclear stations to help maintain security of supply over the next decade,” it said. “Subject to the relevant safety cases being made, the government would not oppose operating life extension applications at these sites.”

The Scottish administration in Edinburgh, which is campaigning for independence from the rest of Britain, has the most ambitious target in the European Union for generating electricity from wind, hydro and marine energy. Its nuclear policy differs from the U.K. government, which has agreed to build more power stations as part of its strategy of meeting EU targets to cut carbon emissions.

Electricite de France is planning to submit plans to extend the operating life of the Torness and Hunterston plants in Scotland by at least five years, the government said. Hunterston, which is situated on the west coast south of Glasgow, is otherwise due to close in 2016. Torness, which is east of Edinburgh, is scheduled to shut in 2023.

Scotland intends to de-carbonize all electricity generation by 2030 through the use of carbon capture deploying empty offshore aquifers that previously held oil and gas.

The government also plans to have 11 percent of heat generated by renewable energy by 2020, almost four times the current level of 2.8 percent. Heat accounts for about half of Scotland’s current energy consumption.

Scotland, the windiest country in Europe, accounts for 25 percent of EU offshore wind capability, the same proportion of tidal power and 10 percent of wave power, the government said.

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