High precision delivery of the world’s most powerful steam turbine
With the focus increasing on an efficient transition to a low carbon economy, the supply chain is looking for partners who deliver trusted, innovative efficiencies into every stage of a project’s lifecycle. The team at Osprey Group epitomised this approach recently, as it transported a new low pressure rotor, weighing 257-tonnes, for the world’s most powerful steam turbine at Hinkley Point C, in Somerset.
Hinkley Point C is the first new nuclear power station in the UK for over 20 years. The project marks a significant milestone in the revitalisation of the nuclear power industry. To facilitate its construction, Osprey Group was appointed by EDF to handle and transport all critical, out of gauge items destined for the site: the team working at the HPC Terminal uses the widest variety of transport – sea and land – providing the ship-to-shore interface for vessel agency, cargo handling and coordination of onward movement to one of the on-site managed facilities.
The new low-pressure rotor forms a critical part of the electrical power production equipment in the turbine hall. It measures 20-metres long, weighs in at a hefty 257 tonnes and houses the largest ‘last stage’ blades ever made at 1.9 metres. It takes herculean effort to move critical assets like these – one of a kind, multi-million-pound components.
As the heaviest Abnormal Indivisible Load (AIL) being delivered into the UK for HPC so far, the project-planning for the rotor’s transport started over a year ago. Working closely with the key project teams at EDF(UK) and GE Power, enabled Osprey to build efficiencies into the journey from the outset.
The meticulous schedule saw the rotor’s journey start in Belfort, France, where it had been manufactured and tested by the GE team. From there, it was moved by our partners heavy-lift truck to Neuf-Brisach in the Alsace region of France, and then loaded onto a barge and transported down the Rhine to Rotterdam where it was stored at GE’s consolidation warehouse.
A coaster vessel already familiar to the project (MV Aasfjord) was selected by Osprey to transport the LP Rotor from Rotterdam to the UK. To maximise the efficiency of the shipment and use all available under hold deck space, additional items (three condenser units) were also loaded onto the vessel, which were then put to sea for the two-day journey to Avonmouth.
On arrival at Avonmouth HPC Terminal, Osprey used their LG1550 SLDB crane to lift all components from MV Aasfjord onto an awaiting 4 file 14 Self Propelled Modular Transporter (SPMT). Once offloaded, all the components were then delivered safely into the bespoke storage facility – the offloading and transportation itself took just under 10 hours, highlighting the precision with which the assets were moved.
This journey is a tried and tested route for the team now, but the journey to Avonmouth was a first for such a heavy item.
“It was uneventful, which is just how we like it,” said Daniel Massey, Osprey’s Senior Project Manager. “Critical assets like this need high levels of precision at every stage of the planning process. By working so closely with the core project teams, we were able to consolidate all the equipment coming in to Avonmouth at this point in the project. It’s just one of the ways we deliver value for our clients: we have the cross-sector experience to scrutinise those mammoth project plans and identify opportunities to add value. In this case, it’s good to know we’re not only delivering the components as needed, but as a company, we’re contributing to the low carbon transition in the most hands-on way – this consolidation reduced both the amount of carbon emissions connected to the supply chain and the number of actual journeys involved.”
In short, Osprey’s early contractor engagement and repeatable Shared Services model reduces the risk, costs and interfaces for everyone delivering critical equipment onto a site.
- The load was lifted off the vessel by a crane with a 35m boom and an overall lifting capacity in this configuration of 323.4Te.
- This was the first use of innovative Dyneema lashing chains on a major AIL for HPC, which are 85% lighter than the steel alternative.
- The final set of bladed rotors has 1,216 blades, and the turbine’s rotors will spin at 1,500RPM.
- That combination will help HPC to generate 3.2GW of CO2-free power for around 6 million homes – a vital part of the UK’s drive towards a zero-carbon future.