Go ahead for UK nuclear project

By Sandy Guthrie21 October 2013

UK Prime Minister David Cameron

UK Prime Minister David Cameron

The first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK for nearly 20 years looks set to go ahead, with contractors such as Costain, Bouygues and Laing O’Rourke in the frame for the project.

The UK Government and French-based energy firm EDF Group have reached commercial agreement on the key terms of a proposed investment contract for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset.

The entire project is expected to cost around £16 billion (€19 billion).

The commercial agreement that has been reached on key terms is dependent on a positive decision from the European Commission in relation to State Aid.

A joint venture between Bouygues TP and Laing O’Rourke (BYLOR) is preferred delivery partner in the early contractor involvement process, for the main civil engineering and construction contract valued at over £2 billion (€2.4 billion).

Anna Stewart, group chief executive for Laing O’Rourke, representing the joint venture partners, said, “This is a pivotal moment for the UK construction industry as we move forward with EDF towards mobilisation and the start of work on site.”

She said, “The development of Hinkley Point C in Somerset will become the single largest construction project in the UK, and we are hugely excited by the opportunity to showcase the skills and potential of our delivery teams, and be at the forefront of a nuclear energy renaissance.”

Bouygues TP and Laing O’Rourke were announced as preferred delivery partners by EDF for the development of Hinkley Point C in mid-2012. Since then, work has continued to prepare for mobilisation.

Once a final investment decision is announced by EDF, the joint venture said it would move swiftly to establish site teams and start work.

Costain will provide the design and delivery of the water cooling systems for the nuclear power station, in the form of three marine tunnels, around 11km in total length and each one approximately 7m in diameter, to take in cooling water from the Severn Estuary for the nuclear reactor before being cleansed, recycled and returned.

It is expected that this work will also start as soon as possible following the final investment decision.

In 2012, UK contractor Kier, in a joint venture with Dutch company Royal Bam, was awarded a site preparation contract in the UK worth over £100 million (€120 million) for Hinkley Point C.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said today, “Earlier this month I spoke about our new industrial policy that looks to the future, and about our determination to embrace new technologies and back new industries and energy sources so that they can flourish and help us build a rebalanced economy across the country.

“As part of our plan to help Britain succeed, after months of negotiation, today we have a deal for the first nuclear power station in a generation to be built in Britain.

“This deal means £16 billion of investment coming into the country and the creation of 25,000 jobs, which is brilliant news for the South West and for the country as a whole.”

The government said the new power station would provide a stable source of clean power from 2023, generating enough electricity to power nearly 6 million homes.

Hinkley Point C will be the first new nuclear power station to be built since Sizewell B, which started generating electricity in 1995. It will begin the process of replacing the existing fleet of nuclear stations, most of which are due to close in the 2020s.

The government said UK companies could benefit from getting up to 57% of the work.

EDF Group and other investors will be responsible for funding the project, and the French group has revealed the intention of two Chinese companies, CGN and CNNC, to invest in Hinkley Point C as minority shareholders.

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