Why Hinkley Point C is great for the UK
Since 2014, we’ve been proud partners at Hinkley Point C, with our on-site team supporting one of the country’s biggest infrastructure developments in decades.
As the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK in more than 20 years, HPC is much more than a one-off construction project.
One of the first major new builds supported by the Energy Act, the finished plant will become a cornerstone of the country’s future energy security, and support economic growth regionally, nationally, and internationally for the next 60 years.
HPC came about in response to the so-called “energy crunch” predicted for the 2020s. Since a survey of the UK’s power-generation capacity was undertaken in 2010, more than 20% of that capacity has already been shut down. That’s set to rise to 55% or more by 2030. Without significant new investment, the prediction is that demand for power will outstrip supply soon, with the two already sitting closer than they have in the best part of a decade.
HPC shows that the country is taking action to circumvent this potential power crisis.
The nuclear new build will house two cutting-edge EPR reactors (the first in the UK) and, when finished, it’ll generate enough power for around 6 million homes, as well as supporting other commercial and infrastructure requirements. That’s around 7% of the country’s total power generation capacity from a single plant on the Somerset coast.
It’s also a statement that says the UK is prepared to meet its power needs and sustainability targets simultaneously. The Committee on Climate Change has set a target for reducing the CO2 output of power generation by more than 80% by 2030, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates that £100 billion investment in new energy infrastructure will be needed to meet that deadline.
HPC may be just one part of a much bigger sustainability strategy, then, but estimates already suggest that, when it’s up and running, more than 9 million tonnes of CO2 will be avoided every year of its expected 60 year lifespan. That’s 540 million tonnes in total.
But while HPC is about more than construction, make no mistake: this is one of the biggest builds we’ve been a part of. A joint investment initiative between EDF, the UK Government, and China General Nuclear, the construction of HPC alone will involve billions of pounds of investment, of which more than £1.3 billion in contracts have already been awarded. As of today, there are already around 2,000 people working on the site, which is on such a large scale that it has its own jetty, creates its own concrete, and will require a permanent sea wall to shield it from the Atlantic.
The scenery won’t be all that’s changing around Hinkley Point; during peak construction, around £100 million per year will enter the regional economy. EDF is also investing more than £50 million into the local community, covering everything from education to roads and infrastructure. And throughout the HPC construction period, 25,000 jobs are expected to be created across a range of different sectors, attracting new talent and a further £40 million per year of economic input to the area.
But while the investment is localised, its benefits won’t all be. According to government research, a wider programme of nuclear new builds is expected to increase the UK’s GDP by more than £5 billion per year, spread across the extended supply chain and a new pool of world-class personnel.
In terms of scale and scope, HPC itself has been compared to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, and it’s expected to have a similarly lasting impact on the way the country is perceived internationally. As well as powering a revitalised public transport network and competitive manufacturing in areas like automotive, HPC will also help to foster a new generation of nuclear talent, including construction professionals, scientists, and engineers, who are then able to work around the world.
Rullion already has around 300 contractors working at Hinkley Point, and this year alone we filled almost 90 vacancies.
Over the course of the last three years we’ve saved EDF c.£200k through a combination of our specialist recruiters and our myRecruiter software, which handles essential activities like PO management and reporting.
Across the entire nuclear new build programme, The Nuclear Industry Association is currently predicting demand for more than 8,600 new engineers per year. That’s a captive market for the right candidates, so, as major recruitment partners for the UK Atomic Energy Authority, we’re actively searching for construction specialists, project engineers, construction managers and more with nuclear experience or an appetite for working in one of the most dynamic industries we cover.