The installation of all 116 T-pylons along the 57-kilometre transmission route that runs from Hinkley to Seabank, near Avonmouth has been completed. This comes almost two years since the first T-pylon was constructed back in September 2021.
Each of the pylons has a single pole and T-shaped cross arms that hold the high-voltage conductors in a diamond ‘earring’ shape. At 35 metres high, the pylons are one-third shorter than National Grid’s traditional lattice transmission pylons. They also take up less room on the land.
The last of the T-structures’ 232 diamond-shaped insulators was recently lifted into place on a T-pylon between Yatton and Kenn in North Somerset. 36 new T-pylons between Woolavington and Loxton were also energised in March. All the T-pylons will be energised by the end of 2024.
Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project overview
Hinkley Point C is a 3,260MW nuclear power plant under construction in Somerset, South West England, UK. It is the first new nuclear power facility to be built in the UK since 1995 or rather in more than 20 years.
The project is expected to power over 6 million homes. It will also create 25,000 employment opportunities and more than 1,000 apprenticeships. Hinkley Point C is projected to have lasting benefits for the UK economy.
The nuclear plant will sit on a 175-ha site on Somerset’s north coast on Bridgwater Bay. It will be adjacent to the existing Hinkley Point A and B nuclear power plants. Before Hinkley Point C, the 500MW Hinkley Point A was commissioned in 1965. The facility was decommissioned in 2000. It was followed by the 965MW Hinkley Point B which was commissioned in 1979. This is expected to be decommissioned in 2023.
The Hinkley Point C will be equipped with two reactors and is estimated to cost $28 billion. The construction of the project was launched in 2017 after being approved by the UK government in September 2016.
The UK government is making a lot of investments as it seeks to revitalize its nuclear power industry. The Hinkley Point C is expected to make significant moves toward the reduction of carbon emissions. The power from the nuclear plant is expected to offset 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. This will be equal to 600 million tonnes over its 60-year lifespan.
Financing for Hinkley Point C
EDF and CGNP will fully finance the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project. The total cost of the project as of 2016 was expected to amount to $59.8 billion. This cost was inclusive of construction, nuclear waste management, operation, and decommissioning costs.
In September 2015, the UK government promised a $2.6 billion debt guarantee for the project. In October 2015, China General Nuclear Power (CGNP) agreed to invest $7.89 billion in the project.
The Hinkley Point C nuclear power project is also guaranteed a strike price of around $156 for every megawatt-hour (MWh) according to 2012 prices. This pricing will apply to power produced for a period of 35 years and is part of the deal finalized by the UK government in September 2016.
World’s biggest crane deployed for Hinkley Point C construction
The Big Carl (SGC-250) has been installed on-site for the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project. Big Carl is a 250m-tall and 5,000t capacity super heavy lift ring crane that has 96 individual wheels on 6km of rails. The crane was installed on the site in September 2016. The crane was designed and operated by Sarens, a Belgian crane rental company.
EDF and Areva (now Framatome) submitted the EPR design to the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) for safety checks.
EDF acquired British Energy, the owner, and operator of eight power stations in the UK including the Hinkley Point.
An application for Hinkley Point C (HPC) was submitted by EDF to the UK’s Infrastructure Planning Commission.
The site license for HPC was approved by UK’s nuclear regulator. The project’s EPR design was also approved for use in the UK.
The UK government gave the Development Consent Order for the project paving the way for the start of construction.
EDF and CGN signed a strategic joint investment agreement for Hinkley Point C
The final investment decision on the Hinkley Point C project was made.
The UK Government approved the HPC deal and permitted the construction
Construction of the second nuclear reactor concrete base at Hinkley Point C completed
Construction of the 49,000-tonne concrete base for the second reactor at Hinkley Point C is now completed. The base was made from 20,000 m3 of nuclear-grade concrete which was poured in using boom cranes. Work at the Somerset site has been continuing during the coronavirus lockdown with social distancing measures in place to protect workers.
The concrete base for the first reactor was completed in June 2019, the next milestone is to build the roof of the first reactor. The site should be completed by 2025.
Construction of the Nuclear Steam Supply System and Balance of Nuclear Island
Bilfinger has been awarded two additional contracts worth US $450.5m to provide execution design, supplier management, procurement, pipework fabrication, and construction works for the Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS) and Balance of Nuclear Island (BNI).
The system transports the steam needed to drive the turbine generator unit and ultimately produce low-carbon electricity. The Nuclear Island is at the heart of the nuclear power plant, including the reactor, the steam generators, and the primary safety and piping systems.
The contracts will be booked in tranches under Bilfinger’s Technologies and Engineering & Maintenance Europe segments. The work on the two contracts will begin immediately and continue until 2025. Most recently, Bilfinger had booked contracts for the Balance of Plant (BoP) package as well as design preparation and planning work for the solid waste treatment systems.
Hinkley Point C is the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in over 25 years. It is expected to provide low-carbon electricity for around 6 million homes, create thousands of jobs, and bring lasting benefits to the UK economy.
Tunnel heads are required for Hinkley Point C’s cooling water system to be installed soon
A total of six tunnel heads that are needed for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station’s cooling water system will soon be lifted into place on Bristol Channel’s seabed. The intake and outfall heads will cap the 8km of tunnels that will supply Hinkley Point C’s two nuclear reactors with cooling water.
The placement of the 5,000t heads is the beginning of complex offshore operations works for the new nuclear power station. The four intake heads are each 44m long, 17m high, and weigh 4,650t. They are made of 775t of reinforcement, 125,000 individual reinforcing bars, and 1,600m3 of concrete.
The two outfall heads on the other hand weigh 3,500t each. They are made of 250t of reinforcement, 52,000 individual reinforcing bars, and 1,100m3 of concrete. The tunnel heads have reportedly been loaded onto barges at Bristol Port’s Avonmouth docks. The barges will be towed to meet the Guilliver and Rambiz floating heavy lift cranes.
Because of the weight of the heads, the cranes will work in tandem to lower the structures into place on the seabed. Lifting specialist Mammoet will carry out the loading operation. During the process, the water levels will be adjusted at the dock to ensure that the barge can receive the load safely.
The proposed change to how the facility stores radioactive waste
Noteworthy, pressurized water reactors at Hinkley Point C will use uranium fuel to create heat and generate electricity when operational. After use within the reactor, nuclear fuel will be stored on-site before being sent off-site to a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF).
NNB Generation Company (HPC) Limited was initially issued a radioactive substance environmental permit back in 2013. In the original design, radioactive waste was to be stored on-site in ‘wet storage. This is a method of submerging and storing in water. The operator has however decided to change the technology from ‘wet storage’ to ‘dry storage. In the latter, the used fuel will be sealed in containers within the facility, before it is sent to the GDF.
As a result, the operator now seeks to change its radioactive substances environmental permit. This will enable it to remove or amend specific conditions related to the previous wet storage technology that is no longer relevant. The operator has said that altering the storage method will not change the expected radiation dose to the general public from discharges or the wider environment, which remains incredibly small.
Separately, HPC is seeking the necessary changes to its Development Consent Order for Hinkley Point C in the autumn.
1st pump set delivered for Units 1 & at Hinkley Point C
The first pump set of 32 units for Units 1 and 2 at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has been delivered. The pump set was delivered by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) to Trillium Flow Technologies (Trillium).
Consisting of five models, the pump sets are important rotary components that will support the operation of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. The pump set will play a central role in removing the heat from reactor containment and fuel pool in a serious accident situation.
The pump set will go through pre-installation testing at Trillium. Afterwards, they will be transferred to Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. The remaining pump sets will be delivered to Trillium sequentially.
Manufacturing the pump sets
Reportedly, high technology level is required to manufacture the pump sets. This is because design, examination, and fabrication must be compliant with the requirement for class 3 equipment in RCC-M.
MHI is responsible for the design and manufacture of all the pumps. Trillium on the other hand is responsible for project management, purchase of motors, pre-installation testing, and delivery of pump sets.
1st pump set delivered for Units 1 & at Hinkley Point C
The implementation of the last phase of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project in the UK is set to begin.
Two large jack-up vessels have already arrived at the projects site in Somerset to help install six vertical shafts into the seabed of the Bristol Channel. The vessels are Deme Group’s 132m long Sea Challenger and the 60m long Neptune vessel. They are equipped with cranes on their platforms and stand on four “legs” that elevate them above sea level.
The works will be carried out by the project’s main contractor Balfour Beatty and marine construction specialist New Waves Solutions.
Significance of this phase of the project
The shafts are key components of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant’s cooling water system. They will reportedly be drilled to a depth of more than 20m and they will connect the project’s three cooling water tunnels with the seabed.
The tunnels, the construction of which was completed in August of last year, include two 3.5km intake and one 1.8km discharge tunnel. The two intake tunnels will supply the two reactors at Hinkley Point C with cooling water. The discharge tunnel on the other hand will discharge it back into the Bristol Channel.
Once the installation of the shafts is complete, the project team will excavate a horizontal connection between the bottom of the shaft and the tunnel. This will be the first link between the tunnels and the intake and discharge heads. The six 5,000t heads were lowered onto the seabed last summer. They will cap the tunnels and help with the supply of cooling water.
Changes to cost and implementation of the project
Due to inflationary pressures, the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project could cost up to £33bn to complete. This is 2% more than the last budget estimate according to Électricité de France S.A. (EDF).
The French multinational electric utility company, however, is still targeting a 2027 start date for the plant’s first two units.