Engineers have completed the first precision placement of a 5,000-tonne water intake head into the Bristol Channel seabed.
The installation, aside from facilitating the biggest-ever lift at sea using two huge floating cranes, marks another milestone in the construction of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.
The work to install the heads is seen as one of the world’s most complex marine engineering projects ever – as the Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range on the planet.
Each intake head – measuring 44m long and 8m high – is being lifted into position by two floating cranes named ‘Gulliver’ and ‘Rambiz’, whose large platforms have a total lifting capacity of 7,300 tonnes.
The intake heads have been built by Balfour Beatty in Avonmouth, in Bristol, and are being transported to Hinkley Point C on barges.
The lifting at sea takes several days, due to each step taking place within six-hour tidal windows.
Marine construction specialists NewWaves Solutions are overseeing the exercise.
Hinkley Point C water intakes will be fitted with special fish-protection measures, including the low-velocity heads, a fish return system, and screens.
The heads are placed sideways to the tidal flow with a high degree of precision to help prevent fish entering the cooling system.
The size of the intakes heads slows the flow of water on either side, allowing nearby fish to swim free.
The work to install all six heads is set to continue into the autumn.
Image credit: EDF
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