Hinkley Point C nuclear plant: reducing carbon emissions in the United Kingdom

28 Jul 2021

Our experts are helping design Hinkley Point C, the first nuclear plant built in the United Kingdom in 30 years. The site, the largest infrastructure project in Europe, will generate low-carbon electricity and cut carbon emissions by 9 million tons per year.


Tractebel is part of the (ICOS consortium (together with Egis and Setec) that carries out the detailed civil engineering design of the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) nuclear island buildings at Hinkley Point in the United Kingdom.

Finalizing the first technical study of the main buildings

The ICOS mission includes producing the detailed calculations, the digital concrete models using Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the execution drawings of the nuclear island formed by the reactor building, the auxiliary building and the fuel-handling area.

Our engineers have just completed the first phase of the project: the calculations that will serve as a basis for the 3D modelling of the concrete reinforcing bars (rebar) of the nuclear island. The 3D modelling should be finished within a year, as we can infer from the progress made on the lower levels in parallel with the calculations. It will provide engineers with a precise design of the plant’s most crucial building reinforcements , enable them to anticipate potential difficulties on the site and optimize construction cost and time. It is the first time that 3D digital modelling is used to produce all the implementation plans for the rebar structures of a nuclear reactor project.

Participating in the largest construction site in Europe

The scale of this unique, innovative, and highly technical project is unprecedented. Hinkley Point C is the largest infrastructure project in Europe. It brings together over 500 experts of 25 nationalities and employs 5,000 workers on the construction site. When completed, the nuclear power plant will contain 3 million tons of concrete and 50,000 tons of structural steel. It also hosts the world’s largest crane, Big Carl. The crane is 250 meters tall, can carry 3,000 tons and will lift over 600 components for the project.

Securing energy supply while achieving carbon neutrality in the UK

The UK has 15 nuclear reactors in operation that account for around 15% of its total electricity production.  The country’s nuclear fleet is nearing the end of its operational lifetime, and most of its nuclear reactors are expected to shut down by 2030. To secure its energy supply and reach its net zero goal by 2050, the government plans to replace part of its nuclear capacity. The two new-generation EPR reactors at Hinkley Point constructed by EDF should be operational by 2026. They will replace some of the power generation loss by producing 3.2 GW of reliable low-carbon electricity for around six million homes. The UK EPR is designed in a sustainable way and will use less uranium and produce almost a third less long-lived radioactive waste compared to similar reactors in operation today.

“Since 2016, nearly 140 of our Tractebel engineers have contributed to the calculations part of the project, working the equivalent of over 200,000 hours and producing around 520 documents. At the end of June 2021, we delivered the last reinforcement definition of the buildings within our scope to our client. It is an incredible team effort and a great achievement. The detailed calculations made by our team will serve as the input data for the precise 3D modelling of the concrete reinforcement of the nuclear power plant. Our experts are also particularly proud of taking part in the largest construction site in Europe, that will help secure energy supply and reduce CO2 emissions in the United Kingdom.” Amanda  Parisis, Responsible for UK EPR projects, including Hinkley Point C


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CGI view of complete Hinkley Point C (copyright: EDF Energy)

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