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    As UK Reconsiders HS2, What Are the World’s Biggest Civil Engineering Projects in the Pipeline?

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    Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, mankind has been intend on taking on bigger and bigger civil engineering projects. Motorways, railways, bridges and tunnels have spread from Europe and North America to Asia and now Africa and Latin America.

    The British government said on Wednesday, 21 August, it was launching a full review of the high speed rail link HS2, amid fears about the rising cost of the project, which would link London and Birmingham and eventually the north of England.

    Transport Secretary said there would be a “go or no-go" decision by the end of the year.

    ​HS2 was approved by Parliament and given Royal Assent in February 2017 but last month it was reported that the budget might go up by £30 billion.

    The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is known to be sceptical about it and Mr Shapps has not ruled out scrapping it entirely.

    So what other civil engineering projects are steaming ahead around the world?

    Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station, UK

    Construction is surging ahead at Hinkley Point C, Britain’s newest nuclear power station, which is due to come online in 2025 and has been estimated to provide seven percent of the UK’s energy needs for the next 60 years.

    ​Nuclear Minister, Andrew Stephenson visited the site in Somerset in June, when the concrete base of the first reactor was completed, and said: “This is a huge achievement for Hinkley Point C and a major milestone for the UK’s nuclear new-build industry, which as a low-carbon electricity source is key to meeting our ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050.” 

    Three million tonnes of concrete will be needed to build the plant - Britain’s first new nuclear power station since Sizewell B, in Suffolk, in 1995.

    The construction of the £18 billion Hinkley Point C - a European Pressurised Water Reactor (EPWR) - was given the go ahead in September 2016 by Prime Minister Theresa May.

    Supporters of renewable energy have criticised the Hinkley Point C deal because of the “strike price”, which guarantees EDF Energy £92.50 per megawatt hour for 35 years, which is much higher than current UK energy prices.

    Crimean Bridge, Russia

    Following the conflict between Russia and the Ukraine in 2014 and the subsequent reincorporation of Crimea into Russia, it was decided to build a bridge across the Kerch Straits.

    The 12-mile road and rail bridge was completed ahead of schedule and links Crimea with the Taman peninsula and the Russian city of Krasnodar.

    In May 2018 Russian President Vladimir Putin held an official opening ceremony for the Crimean bridge, which replaces a ferry service.

    ​During the Second World War Hitler’s chief architect, Albert Speer, conceived of a bridge across the Kerch Straits.

    He believed it would help supply German troops as they invaded the Caucasus Mountains to reach the oil-rich region around Baku.

    In April 1943 the Germans began building the bridge but it was abandoned a few months later when the tide of the war turned and the Red Army began their advance westwards.

    Belene Nuclear Power Station, Bulgaria

    Seven international companies expressed an interest on Tuesday, 20 August, in building Bulgaria's second nuclear power station.

    Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said the 10 billion euro (US$11 billion) project was back on track, seven years after Bulgaria abandoned the project under pressure from the EU.

    She said the bidders included Russia's Rosatom, China's CNNC, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co and Vitkovice Heavy Machinery from the Czech Republic, along with a German company and two Bulgarian firms.

    Bulgaria’s only nuclear plant, at Kozloduy, was built in the 1970s with help from the Soviet Union and supplies 35 percent of the country's electricity.

    ​The Belene facility is further east, close to the river Danube and the Romanian border.

    Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, China

    The Pearl River estuary separates mainland China from the former British colony of Hong Kong and Macau, which belonged to Portugal until 1999.

    In 1983 Hong industrialist Gordon Wu Ying-sheung was the first to propose building a link road to join the three places together.

    First Hong Kong had to be handed over by Britain in 1997 and two years later Lisbon pulled out of Macau.

    In March 2004 a feasibility study was launched and five years later work began on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB).

    The 34-mile bridge, which includes artificial islands and tunnels, finally opened in October last year.

    It ostensibly links Hong Kong’s Lantau island and Hong Kong international airport with the Chinese mainland at Zhuhai, but with a spur to Macau.

    It reportedly cost 127 billion yuan (US$18 billion) to build.

    World’s Largest Solar Farm, Australia

    In June a Singapore-based company unveiled plans for the world’s largest solar farm.

    David Griffin, managing director of Sun Cable, said the US$13.8 billion project could start producing power as soon as 2027.

    The plan is to situate thousands of solar panels on a 15,000-hectare site near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, linked by a 2,400-mile long high voltage cable to a power station in South Australia.

    There are also plans for huge solar farms in Morocco.

    Gordie Howe International Bridge, US/Canada

    For years the main crossing between the United States and Canada near Detroit was the Ambassador Bridge, a toll bridge owned by Michigan tycoon Matty Moroun.

    The bridge carries 25 percent of all international trade between the US and Canada and naturally becomes quite congested.

    So in 2012 the Canadian government and the state of Michigan agreed a deal for a second bridge, linking Detroit with the city of Windsor, Ontario.

    The bridge is to be named after Gordie Howe, a Canadian ice hockey player who helped the Detroit Red Wings win the coveted Stanley Cup four times.

    The Moroun family have repeatedly tried to block the new bridge, presumably fearing it would reduce their income. In December 2018 the Michigan Supreme Court rejected their latest appeal.

    Work began on the US$5.7 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge last year and is due to be completed in 2024.

    It will be 1.5 miles long - making it the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America - and will carry six lanes of traffic.

    It will also have a segregated path for pedestrians and cyclists.

    Gwadar Port, Pakistan

    China’s Belt and Road Initiative has involved spending billions of dollars on infrastructure projects along the route of the old Silk Road between Asia and Europe.

    Beijing is also funding a Maritime Silk Road project and key to that is securing deep sea ports.

    ​One of China’s main problems is the time it takes to export products from the Far East to Europe and the Middle East and import oil and other goods.

    Part of the answer will be the  US$248 million port at Gwadar in Pakistan.

    The plan is for roads and railways to be built between China and Pakistan - via Tibet and Kashmir - and for products to be transferred to sea at Gwadar, avoiding the trip through the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca.

    In January 2019 the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, approved the transfer of the port to Chinese Overseas Port Holdings Limited.

    India views the port development with immense suspicion, believing the port could be used by the Chinese Navy and fears it is being encircled by a“string of pearls”.

    China also has a 99-year lease on a port it built at Hambantota in Sri Lanka and recently signed an agreement to build a deep sea port at Kyaukpyu in Myanmar.

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