A BIM model designed by Laing O’Rourke over two years has been hailed as crucial to ensuring the UK’s first new nuclear power station is delivered on time and within budget.
The contractor, in partnership with Bouygues, was this week named by EDF Energy as preferred bidder for the £2 billion main civils contract at Hinkley Point C.
Industry experts hailed the announcement as a massive vote of confidence in the UK’s new nuclear programme, which has been beset by delays and concerns.
The winning partnership said it would start work on the contract on Monday, with the BIM model central to its goal of delivering the landmark project on time and budget.
Laing O’Rourke/Bouygues project director Martin Westbury said: “We envisage starting work on Monday and interaction between contractors is going to be key.
“We have been working on this bid for two and a half years and developed a sophisticated 4D model. We have demonstrated to EDF that we will be doing this properly and that means planning to the nth degree now.”
Although the contract is not expected to be signed until 2013, the contractors will start refining their design work immediately.
Mr Westbury said developing a BIM model through collaboration between the supply chain would be a crucial part of the early contractor involvement on the civils deal.
A meeting was scheduled between EDF Energy and the winning JV on Thursday before a workshop takes place in Paris on Monday.
EDF Hinkley Point C construction director Nigel Cann said the BIM model was crucial to ensure cost and time overruns on EDF’s Flamanville plant in France were not replicated.
“This is a complex project and it will take teamwork to build a safe nuclear station,” he said.
“If we can’t get our partners working in the same direction as us then we will fail.
“We are looking to develop the [BIM] model as part of that and it will be key to elements such as getting materials to the site at the right time. We have a 176 ha site and we need to make sure we are really efficient.”
He hailed the preferred bidder award as representing a “major milestone” in the energy company’s programme and said it reaffirmed its commitment to Hinkley Point C.
“This should give confidence to everyone that we are moving ahead with this project and that things are progressing,” Mr Cann added.
A Nuclear Industry Association spokesman also hailed the announcement as “excellent news for the UK nuclear industry”, saying there were significant contracts still to come.
Energy secretary Ed Davey said the announcement was “clear evidence of [EDF Energy’s] commitment to nuclear in the UK, and shows the huge investment and job opportunities new nuclear can bring across the country”.
The deal is a blow to the Balfour Beatty/Vinci team, which lost out at the final hurdle on a bid that would have cost the contractors millions over two years, according to industry experts.
A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said that while the decision was “disappointing” it was just one potential contract and the firm anticipated winning others in the energy sector globally.
Laing O’Rourke chief executive and chairman Ray O’Rourke said the announcement was an “important juncture in Laing O’Rourke’s growth and development as a delivery partner of choice to the power sector”.
Mr Westbury said the contract win would act as a “huge springboard” for Laing O’Rourke to win work on nuclear power stations worldwide.
Laing O’Rourke has previously hailed developing a BIM model during tendering for the £300m contract to build the Cheesegrater tower for British Land as being crucial to winning the work.
The Hinkley contract, subject to planning consent for the project, is expected to create an estimated 4,000 jobs with many of the 3,000 or so construction workers under this contract living in Somerset.
EDF Energy and Centrica are expected to take a final investment decision on the development at the end of the year as they continue talks with the government over a guaranteed strike price for contracts for difference - the fixed financial return for generators.
Mr Cann also told Construction News that the £100m earthworks deal won by Bam Nuttall/ Kier would not start work until the end of Q1 2013.