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Hinkley Point C is one of the largest construction sites in Europe

Peikko's references and expertise made it possible for them to become a supplier in this demanding nuclear power project.

At Hinkley Point C (HPC) in Somerset, England EDF is building two new EPR-type nuclear reactors. The technology for the power plant is delivered by the French company, EDF. The BYLOR Joint Venture is delivering the main civil engineering works for the project. HPC is one of the largest and most complex projects in Europe. It will take 10 years to complete this project from start of construction in 2016. There are around 6,000 people currently working at the construction site.

HPC is the first nuclear power plant to be constructed in the British Isles for more than 20 years. HPC is located in the vicinity of the A and B power plants, which were opened in 1964 and 1976. The power plant will have two third-generation pressurized water reactors with a total capacity of 3,200 MW. This is sufficient to generate low-carbon electricity for about six million British households by 2026. The HPC power plant comprises two units the size of the OL3 power plant constructed in Finland. HPC will reduce carbon emissions by nine million tons annually, or by nearly 600 million tons over its 60-year lifespan.

 

A carefully planned construction project

Preparations for the construction site started in 2012 with community investment and the construction of roads. After this, extensive environmental and wildlife protection measures were implemented, as well as infrastructure planning. A concrete factory, warehousing areas, underground tunnels, reservoirs, tanks, and docks, among other things, were constructed at the site. In addition, accommodation for the workforce and internal transport links were constructed.

"The first time I arrived at the site, I was amazed by the actual size of the site," remembers Gatis Počs, Project Manager at Peikko. Indeed, the HPC site is like a small city where employees are transported from one place to another with the site's own buses. The rows of cranes can be seen for miles, that's how big it really is!

There are more than 50 cranes in use at the site, including the biggest crane in the world, the SGC-250, which is used, amongst other things, to lift the nuclear reactor.

 

Safety first

Safety is the primary concern in nuclear power construction. This is why efforts are made to consider all possible accident risks, such as leaks, fires, explosions, or the reactor core melting. Furthermore, external hazards, such as floods or aircraft accidents, are taken into account. Taking all these issues into consideration during the planning and construction is challenging, because the building must meet the strictest requirements.

The structure of a power plant consists primarily of massive concrete structures cast-in-place. Hundreds of engineers work on planning and modeling, and it is their job to ensure that all possible aspects are taken into consideration. The connections must be both safe and reliable. This means that no compromises can be made at the expense of safety. Every work phase, both on site and during product production, is specified in advance and in precise detail. Implementation is fully documented, and the end result is approved based on a specific assessment.

During the implementation phase, thousands of cubic meters of concrete are cast daily, and hundreds of tons of reinforcement and steel are installed. The schedules at the site are very tight, but there are no compromises when it comes to nuclear safety. Nuclear safety means that even the smallest detail is documented and all products are fully traceable. Information regarding the products used during the construction must be readily available throughout the building's 60-year lifespan.

"The concrete structures are reinforced densely, and they have many different kinds of cast-in components," Gatis Počs describes. The manufacturing and installation tolerances of products are extremely tight. For this project, Peikko is delivering all the fastening plates for concreting, frames for structure openings, and high-strength bolts.

Počs knows that during delivery, product documentation is an important part of product quality. Success in the nuclear power industry requires strong expertise, established operations, and high-quality organization.

"I am proud to have the opportunity to lead the Peikko team and to be involved in this significant project that aims for emission-free energy."

 

PRODUCTION IN FINLAND AND GERMANY

Raimo Lehtinen, Business Director, says that Peikko has delivered products for nuclear power projects for about 15 years.

"Our first big reference from the nuclear side was the OL3 project in Finland. It was the biggest individual project in Peikko's history up until now."

According to Lehtinen's experience, references are very important in the nuclear power business. Experienced and reliable suppliers are sought for the projects. In these projects, a long-ranging approach has to be taken in sales activities. Peikko has been involved in the preparations for the HPC project since 2008. It took nearly 10 years before the first products were delivered at the site. Now, production is going ahead at full force at Peikko's factories in both Finland and Germany.

Lehtinen reveals that Peikko is also actively involved in other nuclear power projects.

"With our experience of over half a century, we are able to supply products and solutions for the future projects of the world's leading nuclear power operators. It's not just about manufacturing high quality products, but about the specialized expertise required for the entire project," he emphasizes.

 

Project facts

  • Start of construction in 2016
  • Deployment target 2026
  • Electricity production capacity
  • 3,200 MW
  • Cost estimate approx.
  • GBP 22.5 billion