Hinkley Point C landmark dome lift - in pictures

15 December 2023

Construction of the first EPR unit at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset, UK, has reached a major milestone with the installation of the reactor building dome.

(Image: EDF YouTube live stream)

Using one of the world's largest cranes, known as Big Carl, the dome - with a diameter of almost 47 metres, height of 14 metres and weighing 245 tonnes - was lifted and then slowly lowered onto the 44-metre-high reactor building. The installation of the reactor building dome marks the end of the major civil engineering works on the reactor buildings. The hoisting operation began at 7:20am and was completed at 8.25am, with EDF livestreaming the whole process online.

The weather conditions had to be right for the lift to happen (Image: EDF YouTube live stream) 

Work will now start to weld an air-tight seal around the joint between the dome and the reactor building, which will then be encased with 7000 tonnes of concrete.

"Building the first nuclear power station in a generation is a challenging job and the success of this complex operation is due to the determination and commitment of our fantastic teams," said Simon Parsons, Nuclear Island Area Director. "Lifting the dome allows us to get on with the fitting of equipment, pipes and cables, including the first reactor which is on-site and ready to be installed next year."

(Image: EDF YouTube live stream)

"This is a major milestone in building Britain’s first nuclear reactor in a generation, and a key part of the UK Government’s plans to revitalise nuclear," said Nuclear Minister Andrew Bowie. "Generating enough zero-carbon power for six million homes, Hinkley Point C will reduce our reliance on imported energy and support our shift to net-zero."

A view from below of the inside of the reactor dome (Image: EDF)

Construction of Hinkley Point C - composed of two EPR reactors of 1630 MWe each - began in December 2018, with unit 1 of the plant originally scheduled to start up by the end of 2025.

(Image: EDF YouTube live stream)

In January 2021, EDF said the start of electricity generation from unit 1 had been rescheduled to June 2026. Delays arising from the COVID-19 pandemic would also increase the cost of the project by GBP500 million (USD639 million) to between GBP22 and 23 billion.

It was a precision operation to get the dome in place (Image: EDF YouTube live stream)

In May last year, following a review, EDF announced the start of electricity generation for HPC unit 1 is now expected in June 2027 and the project completion costs were now estimated in the range of GBP25 to 26 billion.

The crane, known as Big Carl, is able to lift 5000 tonnes (Image: EDF YouTube live stream)

The dome is made up of 38 prefabricated panels which were shipped to Hinkley Point C and welded together in an onsite factory.  Prefabrication and modular construction are key features of Hinkley Point C’s construction, which EDF says involves around 10,000 workers and 3,500 British companies.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News