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The Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant and all you need to know

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. It is also the first nuclear power station to be built in Europe since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. It is the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in more than 20 years. The project is expected to power over 6 million homes and will create 25,000 employment opportunities and more than 1,000 apprenticeships. Hinkley Point C is projected to have lasting benefits to the UK economy.

The nuclear plant will sit on a 175ha site on Somerset’s north coast on Bridgwater bay adjacent to the existing Hinkley Point A and B nuclear power plants. Before the 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 and is expected to be decommissioned in 2023.

The Hinkley Point C will be equipped with two reactors and is estimated to cost $28 billion. 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 investment as it seeks to revitalize its nuclear power industry and the Hinkley Point C is expected to make significant moves towards the reduction of carbon emissions. The power from the nuclear plant is expected to offset 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year or 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 including construction, nuclear waste management, operation, and decommissioning is expected to amount to $59.8 billion according to 2016 prices. In September 2015, the UK government promised $2.6 billion in 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 with 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.

Project timeline

September 2007

EDF and Areva (now Framatome) submitted the EPR design to the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) for safety checks.

January 2009

EDF acquired British Energy, the owner and operator of eight power stations in the UK including the Hinkley Point.

October 2011

An application for Hinkley Point C (HPC) was submitted by EDF to the UK’s Infrastructure Planning Commission.

November 2012

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.

March 2013

The UK government gave the Development Consent Order for the project paving the way for start of construction.

October 2015

EDF and CGN signed a strategic joint investment agreement for Hinkley Point C

July 2016

The final investment decision on the Hinkley Point C project was made.

September 2016

The UK Government approved the HPC deal and permitted construction

June 2020

In June 2020, the construction of the 49,000-tonne concrete base for the second reactor at Hinkley Point C was completed.  The base was made from 20,000 m3 of nuclear grade concrete which was poured in using boom cranes.

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