EDF Energy, the UK arm of France’s state utility EDF, which is building two EPR units at the Somerset site, said the installation shows how building an identical copy of the first reactor drives efficiency and saves time. It said the ring, which is 47 metres in diameter and 17 metres high, was built 25% more quickly than the same part on Unit 1, requiring thousands of hours less labour to manufacture.
The company said this “replication effect” will benefit the proposed identical Sizewell C project in Suffolk. The government recently announced funding of £1.7bn in the Sizewell C nuclear power station project as it pushes to reach a final investment decision within three years and begin a programme of new-build that will replace the nation’s aging reactors. The government has also announced legislation to introduce a new financing model, known as the regulated asset base model, for new nuclear.
Big Carl is 250m tall and has a reach of about 270m. It moves on rail tracks and will eventually lift pieces weighing more than 1,000 tonnes. The ring was placed on 96 hydraulic jacks which lowered it into its exact position.
The two EPR units under construction at Hinkley Point C are the only commercial nuclear plants being built in the UK. EDF’s share in the project is 66.5% with China General Nuclear holding 33.5%.
In January, EDF said the cost of Hinkley Point C is expected to rise by up to £500m with commercial operation of the first unit delayed by about six months.
The company said the project completion costs are now estimated in the range of £22bn to £23bn, compared with projected costs of £21.5bn and £22.5bn announced in 2019.
The company warned that the Covid-19 pandemic had caused delays of three months in 2020 and was expected to lead to similar delays in 2021.
EDF said significant progress has been made, but the start of electricity generation from the first of two EPR units is now expected in June 2026, compared with previous estimates of the end of 2025.