British Energy sees problems ahead

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Nuclear power firm British Energy has said that it is unlikely to get two of its power stations back to full power, after shutting them down to repair cracks in boilers.

The company, which is at the forefront of British attempts to reduce CO2 emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, shut its Hunterston and Hinkley Point stations last autumn.

"We have encountered some teething problems during the process of raising load," chairman Adrian Montague said at the group's annual general meeting.

"Delivering increased power levels will not be straightforward," he continued. "I have to say that returning to 100 per cent power is unlikely."

Group shares fell by 1.1 per cent following the announcement, with it now valued at around £5.4 billion.

British Energy has a total of eight nuclear plants and one coal-fired station and is capable of producing around 20 per cent of the total electricity needed in the UK. Its ageing stations have suffered from a series of faults in recent years, however.

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