The Anonymous Widower

Low Carbon Construction Of Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station

Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station is going to be built on the Suffolk Coast.

Wikipedia says this about the power station’s construction.

The project is expected to commence before 2024, with construction taking between nine and twelve years, depending on developments at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, which is also being developed by EDF Energy and which shares major similarities with the Sizewell plant.

It is a massive project and I believe the construction program will be designed to be as low-carbon as possible.

High Speed Two is following the low-carbon route and as an example, this news item on their web site, which is entitled HS2 Completes Largest Ever UK Pour Of Carbon-Reducing Concrete On Euston Station Site, makes all the right noises.

These three paragraphs explain in detail what has been done on the Euston station site.

The team constructing HS2’s new Euston station has undertaken the largest ever UK pour of Earth Friendly Concrete (EFC) – a material that reduces the amount of carbon embedded into the concrete, saving over 76 tonnes of CO2 overall. John F Hunt, working for HS2’s station Construction Partner, Mace Dragados joint venture, completed the 232 m3 concrete pour in early September.

The EFC product, supplied by Capital Concrete, has been used as a foundation slab that will support polymer silos used for future piling works at the north of the Euston station site. Whilst the foundation is temporary, it will be in use for two years, and historically would have been constructed with a more traditional cement-based concrete.

The use of the product on this scale is an important step forward in how new, innovative environmentally sustainable products can be used in construction. It also helps support HS2’s objective of net-zero construction by 2035, and achieve its goal of halving the amount of carbon in the construction of Britain’s new high speed rail line.

Note.

  1. Ten of these slabs would fill an Olympic swimming pool.
  2. I first wrote about Earth Friendly Concrete (EFC) in this post called Earth Friendly Concrete.
  3. EFC is an Australian invention and is based on a geopolymer binder that is made from the chemical activation of two recycled industrial wastes; flyash and slag.
  4. HS2’s objective of net-zero construction by 2035 is laudable.
  5. It does appear that this is a trial, but as the slab will be removed in two years, they will be able to examine in detail how it performed.

I hope the Sizewell C project team are following High Speed Two’s lead.

Rail Support For Sizewell C

The Sizewell site has a rail connection and it appears that this will be used to bring in construction materials for the project.

In the January 2023 Edition of Modern Railways, there is an article, which is entitled Rail Set To Support Sizewell C Construction.

It details how sidings will be built to support the construction, with up to four trains per day (tpd), but electrification is not mentioned.

This is surprising to me, as increasingly, big construction projects are being managed to emit as small an amount of carbon as possible.  Sizewell C may be an isolated site, but in Sizewell B, it’s got one of the UK’s biggest independent carbon-free electricity generators a couple of hundred metres away.

The writer of the Modern Railways article, thinks an opportunity is being missed.

I feel the following should be done.

  • Improve and electrify the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Saxmundham Junction.
  • Electrify the Aldeburgh Branch Line and the sidings to support the construction or agree to use battery-electric or hydrogen zero-carbon locomotives.

Sizewell C could be a superb demonstration project for low-carbon construction!

Sizewell C Deliveries

Sizewell C will be a massive project and and will require a large number of deliveries, many of which will be heavy.

The roads in the area are congested, so I suspect rail is the preferred method for deliveries.

We already know from the Modern Railways article, that four tpd will shuttle material to a number of sidings close to the site. This is a good start.

Since Sizewell A opened, trains have regularly served the Sizewell site to bring in and take out nuclear material. These occasional trains go via Ipswich and in the last couple of years have generally been hauled by Class 88 electro-diesel locomotives.

It would be reasonable to assume that the Sizewell C sidings will be served in the same manner.

But the route between Westerfield Junction and Ipswich station is becoming increasingly busy with the following services.

  • Greater Anglia’s London and Norwich services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Cambridge services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Felixstowe services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Lowestoft services
  • Greater Anglia’s Ipswich and Peterborough services
  • Freight services serving the Port of Felixstowe, which are expected to increase significantly in forthcoming years.

But the Modern Railways article says this about Saxmundham junction.

Saxmundham junction, where the branch meets the main line, will be relaid on a slightly revised alignment, retaining the existing layout but with full signalling giving three routes from the junction protecting signal on the Down East Suffolk line and two in the Down direction on the bidirectional Up East Suffolk line. Trap points will be installed on the branch to protect the main line, with the exit signal having routes to both running lines.

Does the comprehensive signalling mean that a freight train can enter or leave the Sizewell sidings to or from either the busy Ipswich or the quieter Lowestoft direction in a very safe manner?

I’m no expert on signalling, but I think it does.

  • A train coming from the Lowestoft direction needing to enter the sidings would go past Saxmundham junction  on the Up line. Once clear of the junction, it would stop and reverse into the branch.
  • A train coming from the Ipswich direction needing to enter the sidings would approach in the wrong direction on the Up line and go straight into the branch.
  • A train leaving the sidings in the Lowestoft direction would exit from the branch and take the Up line until it became single track. The train would then stop and reverse on to the Down line and take this all the way to Lowestoft.
  • A train leaving the sidings in the Ipswich direction would exit from the branch and take the Up line  all the way to Ipswich.

There would need to be ability to move the locomotive from one end to the other inside the Sizewell site or perhaps these trains could be run with a locomotive on both ends.

The advantage of being able to run freight trains between Sizewell and Lowestoft becomes obvious, when you look at this Google Map, which shows the Port of Lowestoft.

Note.

  1. The Inner Harbour of the Port of Lowestoft.
  2. The East Suffolk Line running East-West to the North of the Inner Harbour.
  3. Lowestoft station at the East side of the map.

I doubt it would be the most difficult or expensive of projects to build a small freight terminal on the North side of the Inner Harbour.

I suspect that the easiest way to bring the material needed to build the power station to Sizewell would be to do the following.

  • Deliver it to the Port of Lowestoft by ship.
  • Tranship to a suitable shuttle train for the journey to the Sizewell sidings.
  • I estimate that the distance is only about 25 miles and a battery or hydrogen locomotive will surely be available in the UK in the next few years, that will be able to provide the motive power for the return journey.

In The TruckTrain, I wrote about a revolutionary freight concept, that could be ideal for the Sizewell freight shuttle.

In addition, there is no reason, why shuttle trains couldn’t come in from anywhere connected to the East Suffolk Line.

Zero-Carbon Construction

Sizewell C could be the first major construction site in the UK to use electricity rather than diesel simply because of its neighbour.

Conclusion

I shall be following the construction methods at Sizewell C, as I’m fairly sure they will break new ground in the decarbonisation of the Construction industry.

December 28, 2022 - Posted by | Energy, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. thank you for the information

    Comment by zidane | January 24, 2023 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: