Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building


World’s biggest crane in heaviest-ever lift at Hinkley

18 December 2020

Big Carl, the world’s largest crane, has completed its biggest-ever lift at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

The crane lifted a total weight of 575 tonnes to install the first of three huge prefabricated steel rings on the project, overseen by main contractor BYLOR (a joint venture between Bouygues and Laing O’Rourke).

The 17m-tall ring with a diameter of 47m was lifted out of a bunker where it was constructed in factory conditions. Big Carl reached out 160m to put it in place during a night lift  – timed to take advantage of lighter winds during a four-day operation. The rings will form a reinforced cylinder around the nuclear reactor.

The first steel containment ring weighs 382 tonnes while lifting gear took the total lift weight to 575 tonnes.

The liner ring is the second of five pieces that make up the steel containment for each reactor, including the base and the dome.

Big Carl is 250m tall, moves on rail tracks and will eventually lift pieces weighing more than 1,000 tonnes

The ring was gently placed on 96 hydraulic jacks which lowered the ring into its exact position 

Hinkley Point C managing director Stuart Crooks said: “This spectacular lift is a remarkable achievement in a year when everyone has had to make extraordinary efforts to keep the site and community safe from infection. The precision involved is like watch-making on an industrial scale.

“Our ability to maintain progress in such tough circumstances is a testament to the commitment of the workforce and our suppliers across Britain and the world.  Construction of Hinkley Point C’s two reactors continues to provide evidence that repeating an identical design improves quality and efficiency – something that will bring big benefits to Sizewell C in Suffolk.”