The proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear project will be one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in the UK, but how does it compare with other mega projects?
While it is interesting to compare the cost of projects, it is difficult to gain a true comparison due to factors including variances on the scope included, the allocation of risks, whether the cost of financing is included, consideration of exchange rates and the need to convert prices into a base year.
With these limitations in mind, here is a comparison of some of the UK’s largest and most high profile construction projects.
2. The 2012 London Olympics. The venues and infrastructure cost £6.7bn out of a total budget of £8.77bn, with a price tag of £486m for the Olympic Stadium (£529 million in 2015 pounds).
4. The Channel Tunnel. The Channel Tunnel opened in 1994, and now transports an estimated 20 million passengers and a similar amount of tons of freight each year between France and England. It has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world (23.5 miles) and at the height of construction, 13,000 people were employed. Construction took six years and cost around £9.5bn to build, double TML's original estimate (equivalent to £26 billion today).
6. High Speed 2. The cost for the project is estimated by the Department for Transport to be £43 billion, which will initially link the cities of London and Birmingham, followed by further extension to North West England and Yorkshire. Construction of the first phase of HS2 is set to begin in 2017 with an indicated opening date of 2026 and will create around 26,000 jobs during the first phase. Completion of the entire network is expected in 2033.
8. Heathrow Terminal 5. The terminal is designed to handle 35 million passengers a year and the main building is the largest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom. Heathrow Terminal 5 opened in 2008 at a cost of £4.2 billion.
9. Heathrow expansion. The Airports Commission Report 2015 proposes a new runway at Heathrow Airport delivering new capacity by 2030 at a cost in the order of £20 billion including provision of local transport connections.
1. Three Gorges Dam. Located on the Yangtze River in China the dam is the world's largest power station in terms of installed capacity (22,500 MW). The project has been estimated to cost in the order of $28 billion including the cost of resettling the 1.3 million people it displaced.
2. One World Trade Centre in New York. The tallest building in the western hemisphere, was created on the site of the twin towers. The project commenced in 2006 and was officially opened in 2014 at a cost of $3.9bn (£2.5bn).
3. The Burj Khalifa. At 830m it is the world’s tallest building. Located in Dubai the building cost S1.5bn (£958M) to construct.
4. Boston’s Big Dig. This highways project is currently the most expensive U.S. public works project at a cost in the order of $20 billion in 2015 USD. The construction work commenced in 1991 and was originally scheduled to be completed in 1998 but was eventually concluded in 2007.
5. California High-Speed Rail. Phase 1 of the rail line connecting Los Angeles with San Francisco is currently under construction and is expected to begin limited operation in 2022 and be completed in 2029. In Phase 2 the system will be extended to Sacramento and San Diego. With an anticipated construction cost of $68.4 billion (in year-of-expenditure dollars) for Phase 1, the project will become the most expensive public works project in United States history.
6. China’s energy investment. In 2014, China had the largest installed electricity generation capacity in the world with 1505 GW. China invested $89 billion in clean energy in 2014, with targets for sourcing 15 percent of its energy mix from renewables by 2020 and 30–45 percent by 2050. China has 23 nuclear power reactors operating and 26 under construction representing roughly 40 percent of reactor construction around the world.
Once a Final Investment Decision is made, the Hinkley Point C nuclear project will become one of the UK’s largest ever construction projects. With the UK’s 2015 National Infrastructure Pipeline estimated at £411 billion, significant investment in mega projects including High Speed 2, the renewable, gas-fired and nuclear energy generation projects, the expansion of capacity at Heathrow and the Thames Tideway could be the catalysts for a buoyant construction market over the next 10 years.
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