The thought of the most expensive object on Earth might bring up mental images of skyscrapers and extravagant buildings, but a new nuclear power plant in the U.K. is raising eyebrows, with some calling it the most expensive single object on Earth.
So, how does it compare to other constructions?
Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is expected to cost $35.8 billion (£24.5 billion) to construct, according to the European Commission, and when completed in 2023, it will provide 3.3 gigawatts of electricity – 7 percent of the U.K.’s total energy needs.
The plant will be built by French Power Company EDF, and it will be the first nuclear power plant in the U.K. in 30 years. But it’s significantly more costly than the previous one, Sizewell B, which was completed in 1995 at a cost of only $6 billion (£4.1 billion) at today’s prices.
To find some true competition, we need to look elsewhere such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, which is the largest machine in the world.
The construction of the LHC was about $4.75 billion, although if we include the experiments and the annual costs of running CERN, then the total cost so far is $13.25 billion, just over a third of Hinkley Point C.
If we are focusing on successful scientific structures, the two LIGO facilities that discovered gravitational waves earlier this year cost $620 million. You could build 57 of those with the same money that the Hinkley Point C power plant is going to cost.
But there are two constructions that have been more costly to the human race. The Gorgon liquefied natural gas project currently being built in western Australia by Chevron is expected to cost $54 billion by the time it is finished.
And the most expensive single item ever constructed is not on Earth at all, but orbiting over our heads. The International Space Station (ISS) is estimated to have cost more than $115 billion. Although the price tag is high, the technologies developed for space end up being used on Earth, hence the interest from the many countries that footed the bill.
So, Hinkley Point C perhaps isn’t quite the most expensive project ever, but it is pricey, leading to some controversy surrounding its construction. However, as engineering lecturer Dr. Ben Britton from Imperial College London explains, there are other factors to take into account for a project this expensive. “It is worth clarifying that for the first time for a nuclear power plant build, the price of Hinkley Point C includes decommissioning and waste management costs,” he said.
Source: IFL science