World’s Biggest Crane Gets to Work at British Nuclear Plant

Crane over dark blue sky

“Big Carl” has taken three months to assemble.

October 7, 2019
Jeremy Hodges - Bloomberg

The world’s largest crane is getting ready to hoist more than 700 of the heaviest pieces of the first new nuclear plant being built in Britain in decades.

The machine, affectionately known as “Big Carl” after an executive at Belgian owner Sarens NV, is in place at Electricite de France SA’s 19.6 billion-pound ($24.1 billion) Hinkley Point C project in southwest England. It can carry as much as 5,000 tons, or the same weight as 1,600 cars, in a single lift and arrived on 280 truck loads from Belgium. It has taken about three months to build.

Nuclear power makes up about a fifth of Britain’s electricity. Most of those plants are near the end of their lives and will close in the next decade. Replacing them won’t be easy—as the scale of the project shows.

Earlier this year, EDF poured 9,000 cubic meters of cement, the biggest single biggest pour of concrete ever recorded in Britain. It was reinforced by 5,000 tons of steel built into a nest 4 meters high that’ll serve as the base of the first new reactor in the U.K. since 1995.



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