Photos | World’s largest crane ‘Big Carl’ starts work at Hinkley

13 September 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: EDF Energy

The world’s largest crane, dubbed ‘Big Carl', has started work on Hinkley Point C, where it is being used by BYLOR – a joint venture between Laing O’Rourke and Bouygues TP - on the main civil engineering works.

The 250m-tall Sarens SGC-250 crane can lift 5,000t at a radius of 40m. Its size and capacity allows large components to be built in covered factory conditions on site before being lifted into place, using a method of prefabrication previously used by energy firm EDF and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) to build reactors at Taishan in China. 

Image: EDF Energy

Big Carl, named after Sarens director of technical solutions, Carl Sarens, is powered by 12 engines and runs on 96 individual wheels as it travels between three different lift locations, using 6km of rail track. It will lift over 700 pieces of prefabrication including the heaviest components for the reactor buildings, the largest of which weighs 1,600 tonnes.

The crane was brought to Hinkley Point C in 280 loads from its base in Antwerp via Bristol Port’s Avonmouth Docks. The port is also handling aggregates being brought to the site by sea and large loads like the tunnelling machines.

Image: EDF Energy

Rob Jordan, Hinkley Point C construction director said: “The crane is an impressive piece of kit and a world beater. It allows us to innovate in the way we build the power station, lifting complete pieces out of our factory bunkers and into place across the site. Pre-fabrication helps us boost quality, gives better conditions for skilled workers and saves time – that’s good news for the project and an example of learning lessons from success at other projects.”

Martin Westbury, BYLOR’s construction director said: “BYLOR are proud to bring the world’s largest land-based crane to the UK for the first time. We will use the SGC-250 crane to lift more than 700 pre-fabricated elements; including the five major sections of the steel containment liner and dome for each reactor building.”

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