The Hinkley Point Visitor Centre was officially opened today (Thursday 16 September) by the High Sheriff of Somerset, Thomas Sheppard, at a reception for local stakeholders.
Some fifty guests were given a tour of the new centre based in Cannington Court, a restored 12th century Benedictine nunnery which combines the latest in energy saving technology and digital learning with an historic space for events and conferences.
The new centre encourages visitors to explore how electricity is created in a fun and interactive way. People of all ages can learn why we need to produce low carbon energy and how EDF is helping Britain achieve net zero emissions through the construction of Hinkley Point C and the use of renewable sources such as wind and solar power.
Jane Tomaney, Visitor Centre Manager, said: “We are very excited to be welcoming guests to our new centre, which sits in the lovely setting of historic Cannington Court. During the pandemic we have not been able to receive visitors, but our doors are now well and truly open. I’d encourage anyone interested in fighting climate change and how electricity is produced to come and explore more for themselves.”
Visitors are taken on a virtual tour of the construction site and can interact with a map to check on latest progress or just watch spectacular drone footage as it swoops around Big Carl, the world’s largest crane. Other exhibits include a model of the pressurised water reactor, along with an interactive challenge to produce the right electricity mix to achieve zero carbon emissions and 100% output so we all have the electricity we need.
Although it is designed for people of all ages, the centre will spark the imaginations of young people across Somerset. The country needs new engineers and scientists, and it is hoped that the centre, coupled with Hinkley Point C's education programme can lead young people into these exciting new career opportunities. The reactor operators and nuclear engineers of the future are in the classrooms of today.
As well as school parties, the centre will cater for community organisations, trade groups, holidaymakers, students and the general public. The Visitor Centre is free to access and open between 09:30 and 17:00 Monday to Thursday and from 09:30 to 16:00 on Fridays.
High Sheriff, Thomas Sheppard said: “This is a fantastic centre for local people and visitors alike, which showcases the challenge of climate change and how nuclear power and renewables can help generate the low carbon electricity needed to power our green economy of the future. Hinkley Point has already played an important part in the economic and industrial development of Somerset and the new power station is continuing that tradition with the latest technology. Children and adults will find the centre an educational, fun and thought-provoking experience.”
Cannington Court is a Grade I listed building with a history as a nunnery, a Catholic Industrial school for boys, and an agricultural college.