By Rod Walton, Power Engineering and POWERGEN+ Content Director
Once completed, the new-build Hinkley Point C nuclear energy unit will boast the world’s most powerful steam turbine with the aid of the largest-ever last-stage blade, according to reports.
GE Steam Power announced it has designed and manufactured a 75-inch last-stage blade for the Arabelle steam turbine which will generate carbon free electricity from Hinkley’s reactor unit in England.
Overall, the Hinkley Point C plant will be capable of producing up to 3.2 GW from its two pressurized water reactors supplied by Framatome. EDF Energy is owner and project leader for Hinkley Point C, which is expected to be commercially operational by 2025.
GE said the fully assembled low pressure rotor was thoroughly tested at the company’s factory in Belfort, France. It was inserted into a balancing pit specifically designed for large turbines, the 8-meter wide bladed module rotated at a speed of 1,500 revolutions per minute, similar to the future site conditions.
An EDF Energy inspector, present at the factory, signed off on the successful quality and reliability test, GE said. The low pressure rotor is set to be shipped from Belfort factory to Hinkley Point C site this year.
“This major turbine part is a first quarter 2021 milestone for Hinkley Point C achieved on time, despite the pandemic” said Guillaume Callewaert, EDF HPC Programme director, “It illustrates the scale of what we are doing for this project and our commitment to Net Zero energy to fight against climate change. This large component will be delivered to site and support the Mechanical and Electrical ramp-up phase of our project in the coming months.”
As part of its contract for the engineering, procurement, and commissioning of the two conventional islands for Hinkley Point C, GE Steam Power is in the process of manufacturing and delivering critical equipment including the Arabelle steam turbine and generators.
Last-stage blades are part of the low pressure module in a steam turbine generator which converts steam into electricity in a nuclear power plant. Longer blades increase efficiency of a steam turbine and allow to further optimized backpressure — all of which contribute to greater power output from the nuclear power plant.
“Hinkley Point C is key to the UK’s energy strategy to reduce the power industry emissions” said Frédéric Wiscart, Senior Executive of Projects at GE Steam Power. “Once completed, it will deliver 3.2GW of dependable, CO2 free electricity to the grid for the next 60 years. At GE Steam Power, we’re proud to play our part in such an important project.”
Earlier this year, GE Steam Power delivered the first Arabelle steam turbine module for the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project. The 3.2-GW Akkuyu will be Turkey’s first nuclear power generation units in operation once completed and operational by 2023.
(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the POWERGEN+ online series. April’s POWERGEN+ sessions will be focused around Optimizing Plant Performance and will feature Black & Veatch, CPV, NAES, Entergy and Hanara Software. Walton is a 13-year veteran of covering the energy industry as both a newspaper journalist and trade publication editor. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and firstname.lastname@example.org).