Hinkley Point C nuclear power station on track for 2026 opening

By Dave Harvey - Business Correspondent, BBC West - Published 29 September 2021


The UK's newest nuclear power station is on track to open by the end of 2026, the company building it has said.


Hinkley Point C in Somerset has been under construction by EDF Energy for five years.

Nigel Cann, who is in charge of the project, told the BBC his team was "absolutely focussed" on switching the plant on within that timescale.


Hinkley is the first nuclear power station to be financed entirely by two private companies.


EDF Energy and China General Nuclear Power Group are both state-owned but the plant is still an experiment on a global scale, and its progress is being carefully watched.


As usual, there are three questions. Will it be on time? On budget? And will it be good value when finished?

Will it be on time?


EDF Energy made the final decision to build at Hinkley Point on 29 September 2016.

I first visited the site when it was just fields. Today, it is a forest of more than 100 cranes. Beneath them, huge holes in the Somerset coastline are being filled with complex concrete structures.


So far they have poured 850,000 cubic metres of concrete, enough to fill 7,600 double-decker buses.


They have bored two huge tunnels two miles out into the Bristol Channel. Every second, 120,000 litres of water will come rushing in, to cool the two nuclear reactors and then back out through a third tunnel.


In 2016, EDF Energy said construction would take 10 years, and it has had five. So, has it done half the work?


"So far we've done 49% of our scheduled activities," said Mr Cann.


"And that's good, but we're also humble enough to know that we've got some big challenges ahead of us with the post-pandemic economic situation, like labour, the supply of materials, transportation, everything."


The pandemic set the project back six months, partly due to slower working on site with social distancing measures, and partly because suppliers slowed down too.


Now the construction is battling with big increases in costs of building supplies, and the UK's wider problems with HGV drivers.


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Hinkley Point C nuclear power station on track for 2026 opening by Dave Harvey for the BBC
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Image source, EDF Energy

Image caption,

Europe's largest building site at Hinkley Point in Somerset, where two new nuclear reactors are being built

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