Hinkley Point C is achieving its milestones and is on the right path to grid connection in 2025
Our experience at Hinkley Point C will give a big advantage to Sizewell C, says Stuart Crooks, Managing Director of Hinkley Point C.
It’s a little over 3 years since we began full construction at Hinkley Point C and every milestone we set ourselves in 2016 has been met. There is a fantastic, positive culture on site where we put safety above everything else.
Our path to begin operating in 2025 is on plan and our schedule has not changed. But we have been open about the risks and in September this year we said the possibility of a 15-month delay for the first of the two nuclear reactors we are building had increased.
We don’t kid ourselves that what we are doing is easy and we don’t depend on optimism to carry us through. We work to overcome risk and are honest about challenges. We will be open with shareholders, stakeholders and the public.
In September, we also said that we spent more money than planned to deliver our milestones. Some of that was due to geology being more challenging than anticipated, meaning we had to do more work to stabilise the ground and to make working conditions safe. That is behind us now and earthworks are finished.
We also said that some of the work to adapt the EPR reactor design for conditions in the UK would lead to greater costs. As that UK–approved design is finalised in detail we have a much more precise view of costs in time and materials.
All of that design in detail is going to be handed over to Sizewell C, the next nuclear power station which we hope to build in Suffolk. It will give them a very significant advantage and a clear idea of costs and schedule.
It’s an advantage because Sizewell C will be an almost exact replica of Hinkley Point C. We know that replication is the best way to reduce risk for UK nuclear new build. We want to build a plant so identical that an operator at Hinkley could walk in the door at Sizewell C and sit in an identical control room, operating identical systems, feeling right at home.
We know that the approach works because it has already happened in the offshore wind industry. They have done a fantastic job in cutting risk and costs. It has allowed the cost of capital to come down for offshore wind for the benefit of consumers and it provides a model for us to follow.Lowering risk and the cost of capital for Sizewell C is key to lowering the cost to consumers. It is much more significant than looking at construction costs alone. That is why our focus is on reducing risk by changing as little as possible.
Hinkley Point C progress, in figures:
In 2020, we will complete the base of reactor two and we will be looking ahead to our first dome lift when the roof of the first reactor building is installed.
Our global supply chain is delivering on time, often early. Our suppliers are doing a tremendous job and are true partners.
We’re getting ready for our project to move from a civils programme to a multi-faceted programme and building our organisational and skills capability.
We will soon see the opening of a British welding centre at Bridgwater College in Somerset. We will also set up a UK EPR engineering centre in Bristol to bring expertise and decision-making closer to the sites and to bolster British UK-EPR know-how.
We are delivering on our socio-economic promise and changing lives for the better. I am proud that we have already hired more than 500 apprentices – many of them from Somerset. They are learning everything from construction to surveying, accountancy, HR, how be a chef or run a hotel.
I am encouraged by what we have achieved so far and by our ability to overcome difficulties. We will approach the challenges with humility and realism. We will be honest and open about progress.
The country needs both nuclear and renewables to fill the energy gap so we can stop burning fossil fuels. We know that our success matters for the country and it matters for the planet.
This article is based on a speech given at the Nuclear Industry Association Annual Conference, 5th December, 2019