The client organisation developing the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant is NNB (Nuclear New Build) Generation Company, a joint venture between the French state-owned company EDF and the state-owned Chinese utility company CGN (China General Nuclear Power Corporation).
You can learn more about the project in our Hinkley Point C Project Profile.
EDF made their final investment decision in July 2016 and the project was approved by the UK government in September allowing construction to commence officially on site in October 2016. The project programme has a target of initial delivery for unit 1 by the end of 2025.
After 2 years of full construction the earthworks and enabling works are well progressed allowing the main civil works to ramp up. The client NNB have advised that the project is on track in 2019 for its next major milestone, known as “J-0”, the completion of the 4,500 tonne concrete platform on which the reactor buildings sit.
M&E works on the main power plant are expected to start approximately 4 years into the project and ramp up to a peak in year 6.
The estimated price of construction has risen up from the £18bn quoted in 2016 to £19.6 billion. Firming up the design and award of supplier contracts has led the client to indicate the potential of up to 15 months delay which could incur a further £700m cost increase. No new outturn cost forecasts were advised publically in 2018.
Around 80 per cent of procurement on the project is complete, with 30 equipment contracts, most of them at preferred bidder stage, still to be signed. £10.6bn of contracts have been awarded with 64% of the project value being built with UK firms and £1.3bn of this awarded to local companies in the South-West region.
In preparation for the Mechanical, Electrical and HVAC works four Tier 1’s (Altrad, Balfour Beatty Bailey, Cavendish Nuclear and Doosan Babcock) have signed an Alliance to work together as a single entity.
A Hinkley Professional Services Group has been established to provide support to the supply chain in the areas of Human Resources (recruitment, training and employee retention), Legal, Accounting and Finance, Project Management and support to companies who are new to working in the nuclear sector.
You can learn more about the Contractors working on the Hinkley Point C Nuclear Project in our Contractor Profile.
Over 3,200 people were working on the site towards the end of 2018 and this is expected to ramp up in 2019. The site teams have over 250 apprentices working on the project, with this figure expected to increase to 1,000 apprenticeships during the build.
While there is an intent to optimise off-site works a construction workforce is forecast to reach a peak of over 5,600 workers approximately 5 to 6 years into the build.
Hinkley Point C site - Aerial View August 2018 (image courtesy of EDF)
Aerial video footage showing progress in September 2018 can be seen here.
Since 2008, NNB have been undertaking enabling works on the project including construction of park and ride facilities, bypasses and upgrading of the approach roads, and the commissioning of the main concrete batching plant.
Following commencement of full construction in October 2016, site works have focused on bulk earthworks, the 500m long jetty for marine deliveries, construction of the sea wall, provision of site facilities and stabilising excavations. These works have allowed the main civils construction to commence with the main areas of focus being the reactor base slabs and cooling water infrastructure.
View of Reactor 1 Nuclear Island (image courtesy of EDF)
Hinkley Point C has two reactors. The layout of each reactor consists of two major parts: the Nuclear Island and the Conventional Island. The Nuclear Island is associated with the reactor and the ancillary equipment needed for its operation.
The deep dig for Unit 1, an excavation 21m below sea level that will contain the 54m tall water pumping station has been completed. This will allow the construction of the Pump House to commence.
In March 2017 the Office for Nuclear Regulation gave approval for the first Nuclear safety concrete to be poured for a section of the power station galleries, an 8km network of connected tunnels carrying cables and pipes under the plant. 750 metres of these concrete galleries are now complete.
The blinding concrete for the base of the nuclear island unit 1 reactor was poured in August 2017 and the units pre-stressing gallery is complete.
Consent for a key hold point, the common raft base slab was granted by the Office for Nuclear Regulation on 23 November 2018. The first 2000 cubic metre concrete pour of the main common raft base slab lasted 30 hours. Four more pours will follow before the raft will be complete in mid 2019. The slab is classified as a nuclear safety-related structure and is seismically qualified. It will support the unit 1 reactor building, the fuel building and the four electrical and safeguard building divisions. The thickness of the slab can be up to 4m under the reactor building.
The first sections of the cooling water pipelines have been installed. This pipework will provide the cooling seawater to the reactor building and return the water a few degrees warmer back to the sea. The pipework consists of over 700 pipe segments and will be more than 3km in length when complete. The larger segments are 3.5m wide and weigh nearly 13 tonnes.
Work on the outfall tunnel shaft has commenced. There are two intake tunnels, 6m in diameter and 3.5km long and one outfall tunnel, 7m in diameter and 1.85km long.
The world’s biggest crane the SGC 250, which can lift a maximum of 5,000 tonnes or 200 tonnes at a radius of 100m, and operate at a height of 250 metres and radius of 275 metres, is due to be installed on the site. It will be used to move more than 600 pre-fabricated components including the five major parts of each nuclear unit’s steel containment liner and dome. A total of 6km of rail will be laid onsite to allow the crane to travel between three different lift locations. In addition to the SGC 250, up to 52 tower cranes will be operating at the site. You can see an animation here.
The outfall tunnel launch shaft with the first ring and collar placed (image courtesy of EDF)
The marine works are largely complete. These include the construction of a 500m temporary jetty for delivery of aggregates and materials by sea, the 13.5 metre tall and 760 metre long seawall and the works to Combwich Wharf, which will handle delivery of the large loads by sea. You can see a video of the jetty here.
Over 80% of the sea wall is now complete and the first phase of dredging on the bed of the Bristol Channel is being undertaken for construction of the cooling water inlet heads. The conveyor system for the jetty is being installed, in preparation for it to start operating next summer. The refurbishment of Combwich Wharf will start early in 2019.
The first accommodation campus with 510 beds, a restaurant and gym, located adjacent to the construction site, opened on schedule in June. The prefabricated units were installed in 8 months.
The Bridgwater Campus, the larger of the two developments with 1,000 beds, is being built in three phases on the site of a former Cellophane factory.
Progress in the first 2 years of construction works on the Hinkley Point C project can be seen in this video.
A2O People produce a regular series of articles designed to keep people informed about the Construction Industry, the UK Energy Sector, the UK Nuclear Sector, the Hinkley Point C project, and HR / Employment Law issues impacting the Construction sector.
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A2O People are a member of the Hinkley Point C Professional Services Group. We have developed a Guide for Job Seekers for people interested in working in the UK nuclear sector and a Supply Chain Guide e-book for companies interested in working on the UK Nuclear New Build projects.