July 20, 2024

UK Celebrates Major Milestone as Hinkley Nuclear Plant Progresses

The Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK has achieved a significant milestone with the installation of a steel dome that will cover its first reactor building. Operator EDF confirmed the successful placement of the enormous circular roof, measuring over 47 meters in circumference, 14 meters high, and weighing 245 metric tons. The operation was made possible by favorable weather conditions and was completed in just 90 minutes.

The steel cover now sits atop a 44-meter-high concrete tower, which will house the first of the plant’s two reactors. The installation of the reactors is scheduled for next year. This achievement marks a major step in the construction of the UK’s first nuclear reactor in decades and is integral to the government’s ambitious plans for nuclear revitalization, according to Andrew Bowie, the UK’s nuclear minister.

The Hinkley Point C plant is expected to generate enough zero-carbon power to meet the needs of six million homes, reducing the country’s dependence on imported energy and supporting its aim to achieve a net-zero emissions goal. EDF, the French energy giant, is also responsible for the construction of the Sizewell C plant in southeast England, with both facilities set to generate 3.2 gigawatts of power.

Originally, the installation of the dome above Hinkley’s first reactor was planned for completion by the end of 2022. However, the project has faced multiple delays. The estimated cost, primarily financed by EDF, has escalated to £25-26 billion ($32-33 billion), or £32.7 billion considering inflation, which is nearly double the initial estimate of £18 billion.

EDF is now aiming for the first reactor to begin operations in June 2027, followed by the second reactor a year later. The UK currently operates nine nuclear reactors on five sites managed by EDF, but many are approaching the end of their operational lifespans. As a result, six reactors across three sites have been decommissioned since 2021 and are due for dismantlement.

In a separate development, EDF announced in March that it would extend the lifespan of two British power plants—Heysham 1 and Hartlepool. These projects underscore the company’s commitment to maintaining a strong nuclear energy footprint in the UK and ensuring a secure and sustainable energy future.

Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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