Everyone is bearing the pressure to get it right – from the shovel drivers at a nearby Somerset quarry who wash the wheels of their vehicles to ensure the quality of the raw materials being delivered to Hinkley is as pure as possible, to the team of 48 planners painstakingly mapping out each element of work on the construction site. This is because the political, economic and historic context of the construction of Hinkley Point C, means that successful delivery could pave the way for more nuclear new builds in the UK and overseas. Some UK politicians are doubtful about Hinkley Point C’s economic case. French energy giant EDF is delivering the scheme in conjunction with the China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN). Going over budget or time could damage EDF’s plans for another nuclear power station, Sizewell C in Suffolk. In France, where more than 70% of electricity generated comes from nuclear power, the energy firm needs investment to overhaul the country’s ageing fleet of reactors. The Flamanville 3 new build in Normandy is now notorious for having been delayed by several years and has gone over budget by hundreds of millions of pounds. So it comes as no surprise that EDF and its contractors are under more than the usual amount of pressure to get Hinkley Point C right. “One of the biggest challenges we had was take best practice from the industry and some of the key lessons learned from other projects and make sure that they were embedded here,” says EDF Hinkley Point C delivery director Nigel Cann. In detail, this means looking carefully at what triggered the delays and cost increases on Hinkley’s predecessors and heading them off. The result is a series of construction innovations that have so far resulted in the project having a 97% right first-time rate. Huge importance has been placed on concrete production – 3M.t is needed. Problems with concrete at other nuclear power station builds have caused costly delays. Flamanville suffered from cracking or poorly compacted concrete. Finland’s Olkiluoto 3 – not an EDF project – had too much water in some of its concrete mix impacting strength.
New Civil Engineer 14th Jan 2019 read more »