NuGen Properties

Hinkley Point C reactor building tops out

Big Carl lifted the dome in a single operation

“Big Carl”, the world’s largest crane, lifted the 24-tonne, 47m-wide, steel dome into place on Friday morning, closing the roof to allow the first reactor to be installed next year.

Big Carl (officially designated SGC-250) is a platform-mounted lattice-boom crane designed, built, owned and operated by Belgian heavy-lift specialist Sarens.  It can lift up to 5,000 tonnes at a radius of 40 metres, and lays claim to the title of the world’s strongest land-based crane, although there are larger cranes used at sea in the offshore industry.

The lift, starting at 07:20, was carefully planned to take advantage of a weather window to allow the hour-and-a-half long manoeuvre to be completed in low wind conditions.

The dome is the top part of the reactor building’s inner containment, a steel cylinder encased in concrete. Measuring 47m in diameter, it is wider than the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral and is made up of 38 prefabricated panels which were shipped to Hinkley Point C and welded together in an onsite factory.  Prefabrication and modular construction are key features of Hinkley Point C’s construction.

Earlier this month, the 750 tonne polar crane was lifted into place in a single piece above the reactor building’s third, and final, steel liner ring. This internal crane rotates through 360° above the reactor and will be used for refuelling and installing equipment.

Simon Parsons, nuclear island area director for EDF, said: “Lifting the dome allows us to get on with the fitting of equipment, pipes and cables, including the first reactor which is on site and ready to be installed next year.”  
Nuclear Minister Andrew Bowie said: “This is a major milestone in building Britain’s first nuclear reactor in a generation, and a key part of the UK Government’s plans to revitalise nuclear.  

“Generating enough zero-carbon power for six million homes, Hinkley Point C will reduce our reliance on imported energy and support our shift to net zero.”  

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