Blog 3rd April 2023

LCCC visit Hinkley Point C

HPC image one

On 15 March 2023, James King, Andrew Deeley, myself and Arup (our technical advisor for HPC) went to visit the Hinkley Point C project which is based in Somerset. We were welcomed by the CFO (Marc Lotz) and the Head of the MD Office (Cat Watkins) where they gave us a brief explanation of the progress to date and the main areas that we’d see on the site tour. The project is halfway through the civils work and is expecting to pour c.200,000 cubic meters of concrete this year. Once the civils has made sufficient progress on the different rooms and buildings, they’ll hand it over progressively to the Mechanical, Electrical and HVAC (MEH) alliance, which is in charge of fitting out the cables and pipes connecting different pieces of equipment and areas. HPC are planning to start the bulk installation of cables, trays, supports, air conditioning ducts and pipes by the end of this year. The project is targeting to complete the first unit by June 2027 although they have reported a risk of further delays of up to 15 months.

Reactor Building  HPC image three

Once on site, we were guided by 2 heads of construction (Mark Dillon and Nick Horner) who took us through the main areas of the project like the reactor building, turbine island and marine works. It was really good to have these ‘site’ people with us explaining many details that we don’t normally get through the usual reports we receive from the project. It was also an opportunity to have open and honest conversations with both of them on how the project is progressing and the challenges they are facing. It was very impressive to see the 250-meter tall Big Carl, which is the biggest land-based crane in the world and is used to lift large structural components and heavy pieces of equipment. We also saw how the reactor building for unit 1 is getting ready to receive the dome that will close the building by the end of this year. Once this lid is on top of the building, they’ll introduce the different components of the nuclear reactor (manufactured by Framatome) that will be installed inside the building. The reactor building is connected to another large building where the turbine pedestal is getting finalized to be the base of the most powerful steam turbine from GE (called Arabelle). Finally, we visited the ‘heat sink’ which is a massive infrastructure to manage the water coming from the sea to cool down the condenser and returning the warm water back to the sea. This is done through 3 long tunnels into the Bristol channel. 

HPC image four

There are c.9,000 workers on site so the project had to build their own accommodation, welfare facilities, firefighting station, a health clinic, and has a fleet of buses to bring workers to site and another fleet to move workers within the site. Actually, there are several traffic lights on site! They have training facilities for welders, electricians, operators, etc. and a few apprenticeship schemes. Therefore, one could say that HPC is not just another project, but rather a little town of people doing their part in the Net Zero journey. 

We signed the HPC CfD in September 2016 and it’s a bespoke contract that was negotiated with the project shareholders. Some of the bespoke elements are, for example, the term of the CfD (35 years) and the length of the Target Commissioning Windows (4 years). The project comprises 2 units of 1.6GW each, and, once in operations, they will supply enough electricity to cover c.7% of the UK demand.    


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