First reactor vessel for Hinkley Point C completed

16 December 2022

The manufacture of the reactor pressure vessel for the first of two EPR units at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant under construction in Somerset, UK, has been completed in France and the large component is ready for delivery to the construction site.

The reactor vessel for Hinkley Point C unit 1 (Image: EDF Energy)

The vessel - measuring 13 metres in length and weighing 500 tonnes - was fabricated by Framatome at its Le Creusot facility in Burgundy, central France. EDF Energy said teams have spent 80,000 engineering hours on the component's construction.

The reactor pressure vessel is the high strength steel cylinder that will house the reactor core and all associated components including the reactor vessel internals which support and stabilise the core within the reactor vessel, as well as providing the path for coolant flow and guiding movement of the control rods.

"The completion of the first reactor pressure vessel marks a major milestone in the construction of Hinkley Point C," EDF Energy said. "Together, the two nuclear reactors will offset 600-million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over their 60-year lifetime - driving Britain towards net-zero and stronger energy security."

In July 2018, Škoda JS of the Czech Republic was awarded a contract by Framatome to manufacture and supply two sets of EPR reactor pressure vessel internals for the Hinkley Point C plant. The contract includes the core basket, heavy reflector and the upper internals.

Earlier this week, Big Carl - the world's largest crane - lifted the final 11-metre prefabricated steel ring into place on to the reactor building of Hinkley Point C unit 1, which now stands 44 metres tall. The dome is expected to be placed on the reactor building during 2023.

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

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 to between GBP22 and 23 billion.

In May this 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.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News