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Tue May 11 2021

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Big Carl makes second big lift as HPC team improves

30 Apr Contractors building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset are finding efficiency gains borne out of experience.

The 308-tonne steel ring was built 36% faster than the first one
The 308-tonne steel ring was built 36% faster than the first one

The world’s largest land-based crane, Big Carl, has lifted the second of three massive containment rings into position on Unit 1 this week. The 17-metre-tall ring, with a diameter of 47 metres, was built 36% faster than the first one by teams using the experience gained on ring one.

The prefabricated steel ring, which weighs 308 tonnes, forms part of the reinforced cylinder around the nuclear reactor. It was lifted out of a bunker where it was constructed in factory conditions – one of the innovations behind the time savings. Prefabrication inside these bunkers reduces the need to work at height or in bad weather and the work can be completed and checked in a controlled setting.

Hinkley Point C (HPC) managing director Stuart Crooks said: “Our belief that we can do things better drives innovation at Hinkley Point C. As we build the first UK European pressurised reactor we are learning and improving all the time. This is leading to improved productivity as we build Hinkley Point C’s twin reactors. We will use that experience to underpin our plans for two more identical reactors at Sizewell C.”

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Big Carl, owned and operated by Belgian crane company Sarens, is working for main contractor Bylor, a joint venture of Bouygues and Laing O’Rourke, which is building the nuclear plant for French and Chinese state companies.

The crane’s biggest lift was made in December 2020 when it lifted the first of these liner rings. That one had the same dimensions as the second one but weighed 382 tonnes. Including lifting gear, the total lift weight in December was 575 tonnes.

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