The final concrete pour of 8,991m3 set a new UK record for a single, continuous pour. It surpasses by 37m3 the previous record during construction of the base for Hinkley Point C’s first unit in June 2019.
EDF Energy said completion of the base meets a target date set more than four years ago. The work was completed by teams who have had to adapt to new working conditions dictated by the coronavirus pandemic, with work concentrated the most critical areas of construction.
In March EDF Energy said the number of workers on site would be significantly reduced, falling by more than half to around 2,000 and perhaps further as work already in progress is completed.
“Many health measures remain in force to prevent the spread of infection. Where social distancing is not possible, workers have been using extra protective equipment,” EDF Energy said.
EDF Energy, the UK arm of France’s state-owned utility EDF, is building two 1,600-MW EPR units at Hinkley Point C. The units are expected to meet 7% of UK demand.
Preparatory work onsite has been underway since a final agreement on the project was signed in September 2016 by EDF, China’s CGN – which has 24 nuclear plants in operation in China and five under construction – and the UK government.
In 2019 the project met all of its milestones and remains on schedule. Unit 1 is expected to begin power generation in 2025.
Completion of the second reactor base benefited from experience gained on the first identical unit, which led to significant increases in productivity through steps such as increased use of prefabrication.
EDF Energy said this will benefit the proposed follow-on project at Sizewell C in southeast England. Last week EDF submitted an application to build two new EPR units at Sizewell C.
Sizewell C would be north of its sister plant Sizewell B on the Suffolk coast. EDF estimates the two Sizewell C units would take 10 to 12 years to build once it has planning permission.
In September 2019 EDF raised its estimate of the cost of completing Hinkley Point C to between £21.5bn (€24bn, $26bn) and £22.5bn, an increase of £1.9bn to £2.9bn compared to previous estimates.
It said the increases reflected “challenging ground conditions which made earthworks more expensive than anticipated, revised action plan targets and extra costs needed to implement the completed functional design, which has been adapted for a first-of-a-kind application in the UK context”.
The initial cost of the project had been put at £16bn, but was revised to £18bn in 2015, reflecting the impact of inflation.
Under a contract for difference agreement, the UK government has guaranteed to EDF an index linked price for power produced by Hinkley Point C of £92.50 (at 2012 prices) per MWh over 35 years.
Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association said it was excellent news that Hinkley remains on track, despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This power station represents a big step towards net zero emissions. It also shows nuclear’s large scale green growth opportunities are real, and there is more to come,” he said.
He said the government understands the integral role of nuclear to decarbonisation, but must turn that support into clarity and commitments on the specifics. “Its new energy policy must determine the size of the ambition, and set out a funding mechanism which removes unnecessary costs.”