|14 February, 2017

UAE's first nuclear reactor nearing completion - official

Barakah nuclear plant in Abu Dhabi is expected to have the capacity to generate up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs when it launches in 2020.

Image used for illustrative purpose.

Image used for illustrative purpose.

14 February 2017

By Yasmine Saleh

The United Arab Emirates’ first of four nuclear reactors is almost nearing completion, with the entire plant in Abu Dhabi on course to begin operations by 2020, the country’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hamad Al Kaabi, said on Tuesday.

“We are at a very good timing in terms of progress. The first unit (reactor) is almost 96 percent done,” Al Kaabi told Zawya on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai, adding that the project will include four 1,400 megawatts reactors and will contribute around a quarter of the country’s electricity needs when it is connected to the country’s electric grid at the end of the decade.

The Barakah plant, which is a joint project between the state-backed Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC) and a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation, started construction in 2012.

While the project is part of the UAE government’s aim to have half of the country’s energy sources come from clean and renewable sources by 2050, Al Kaabi said so far no decision has been made to launch any more plants in the UAE in the near future. Read more here.

Situated in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, around 50 km west of the city of Ruwais, Al Kaabi said the location for the plant was not located near highly populated areas and that technical studies had ensured the safety of the surrounding environment and the stability of the ground in the area.

The project’s developers have secured $24.4 billion in financing to fund the project, consisting of $19.6 billion in direct bank loans, $16.2 billion from the Abu Dhabi government and another $2.5 billion from the Export-Import Bank of Korea, Reuters reported in October 2016. Read more here.

Al Kaabi said operators will start carrying out tests to begin inserting fuel into the plant’s reactors from around May this year. “The infrastructure associated with the installation of the pipeline is also falling in place so overall, we have a very good progress,” he said.

The director of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, told reporters at the Dubai summit the agency had provided training to officials at the Barakah plant and said the UAE has been “following the necessary steps and closely cooperating with the IAEA on its nuclear project”.

© Zawya 2017

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