The Hinkley Point C nuclear project is on track to meet its next major milestone in 2019, according to EDF Energy.
The completion of the 4,500 tonne concrete platform that will form a base for the reactor buildings will be seen as a “significant moment” for the project.
The company gave the update roughly two years after its parent company, EDF, signed the final agreement to build the 3.2GW power station in Somerset.
In the meantime, the first accommodation campus has been opened, 750 metres of underground concrete galleries have been installed to house cables and pipes and a 500-metre jetty has been built to import aggregates by sea.
Once completed, the plant is expected to meet 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs. EDF Energy said it is aiming to have the first unit reactor finished by the end of 2025.
Stuart Crooks, managing director of Hinkley Point C, said: “Everyone working on the project should be proud of what they have achieved so far.
“Unions, contractors and suppliers are successfully working together with a complete focus on quality and safety.
“Innovation and experience from other projects is helping us boost productivity and get ready for the next stages.”
So far £10.6 billion worth of contracts have been awarded, with £1.3 billion being spent in the South West and 64 per cent of the project value going to UK firms.
On 27 September, four major contractors – Altrad, Balfour Beatty Bailey, Cavendish Nuclear and Doosan Babcock – formed the Mechanical, Electrical and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) Alliance to work together on the installation of cabling and pipework for the power station’s 2,500 rooms.
The alliance aims to create new industrial capacity and jobs by manufacturing specialist pipework in the UK.
Following news of the progress, unions have called for other proposed nuclear projects in the UK to proceed.
Unite national officer for energy Peter McIntosh said: “This project is continuing to make a significant and positive economic impact within the UK and, in particular, in the South West where it has been an enormous jobs generator.
“It is creating thousands of highly skilled construction jobs and EDF has already started to deliver on its commitments with over 250 apprenticeships. Once it starts operating, it will employ a 900-strong workforce.
“The country must build on what has been achieved and secure the benefits of replication and innovation, which will substantially bring down the cost of follow-on new nuclear build projects,” he added.
“It would be a massive missed opportunity if the planned projects at Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell B in Essex are not given the go-ahead, including the necessary financial investment required in good time.
“Support should also be made available to Wylfa Newydd in Anglesey and the troubled Moorside project in Cumbria.”
Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary for energy, said: “On the second anniversary of work beginning on Hinkley Point C, GMB is calling for the go-ahead to be given for a new nuclear power station in Suffolk.
“Starting with Sizewell C, Britain still needs at least five new low carbon nuclear power stations if we are to meet our energy needs and reduce our dependency on foreign imports of power whilst ensuring we have the reliable electricity that comes from very low carbon nuclear, and lower carbon gas, to complement our renewable energy sources.”
EDF Energy recently insisted that the construction of the project remained “on track” after fresh delays to the French plant in Normandy using the same reactor design.
On 25 July, EDF announced that it will not be able to start loading nuclear fuel into its Flamanville European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) until the final quarter of 2019 – a year later than the previous target date.