UAE switches on Arab world’s first nuclear power plant

3 Aug 2020
UAE switches on Arab world’s first nuclear power plant

The first reactor of the federal 5.6GW Barakah nuclear power plant was switched on on 1 August. The nuclear power plant will provide 25 per cent of the UAE's electricity supply when fully operational. The Kepco-consortium developing the plant was awarded an estimated $20bn contract to develop the project in 2009

The UAE has started operations of the first reactor of its 5.6GW Barakah nuclear power plant, the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world.

The first reactor was switched on 1 August, with commercial operations of the reactor expected to begin later this year. Operation of the first reactor begins the ‘criticality’ phase of the plant, with the reactor to be connected to the grid for a testing phase before commercial operations begin.

"Through the realisation of the vision of our leadership, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has become an engine of growth for the Nation. It will deliver 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity with zero carbon emissions while also supporting economic diversification by creating thousands of high-value jobs through the establishment of a sustainable local nuclear energy industry and supply chain," Mohamed al-Hammadi, chief executive of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said in a statement published on the UAE’s state news agency website WAM.

The UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), issued the operating licence for the first reactor of the Barakah nuclear power project in February.

The licence was issued to the Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) subsidiary, established to operate the $24.4bn nuclear power plant, which is being developed by a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco).

The operating licence enables Nawah to operate the first reactor for a period of 60 years.

As of February, the overall construction work on the four-reactor project was 93 per cent complete. With construction work on the first unit having been completed, the second unit is 95 per cent complete, with units three and four 92 per cent and 83 per cent complete respectively.

The beginning of operations of the first reactor marks a significant step forward for the plant, which has fallen a number of years behind schedule. The first reactor had been due to come online in 2017, with the remaining three to come online one-a-year up until 2020.

The consortium developing the project, including Kepco and other South Korean firms Doosan Heavy Industries and Samsung Corporation, was awarded an estimated $20bn contract to develop the project in 2009.

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