How UAE's Barakah nuclear energy plant promises a sustainable future
The nuclear reactors will supply up to 25 per cent of the UAE's electricity needs.
Making UAE the first Arab country to deliver safe, clean and peaceful nuclear energy, Barakah is the first major national achievement this year for the country.
Nawah Energy Company, the subsidiary of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, ENEC, responsible for the operation and maintenance of nuclear energy plants in the UAE, has confirmed that the World Association of Nuclear Operators, WANO, has cleared Unit 1 of Barakah as ready for start-up.
After it's fully operational, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant's four Units will prevent the release of 21 million tons of harmful carbon emissions every year, equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars from the country's roads on an annual basis.
Located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi Emirate, approximately 53km west-southwest of the city of Ruwais, the plant's four APR-1400 design nuclear reactors will also supply up to 25 percent of the UAE's electricity needs in compliance with the highest standards of safety, security and operational performance.
The journey started in April 2008 with the issue of the Policy of the UAE on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy.
The policy focuses on six key principles, which include the UAE's commitment to complete operational transparency, pursuing the highest standards of non-proliferation and adhering to the highest standards of safety and security.
It also includes working directly with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and conforming to its standards when evaluating and establishing a peaceful nuclear energy programme, developing any peaceful domestic nuclear energy capability in partnership with the governments and firms of responsible nations, as well with the assistance of appropriate expert organisations, and lastly approaching any peaceful domestic nuclear energy programme in a manner that best ensures long-term sustainability. The UAE programme has since been successfully developed in line with all of these principles, and continues to uphold these going forward.
In 2009, the Korea Electric Power Corporation, KEPCO, which is the largest nuclear power corporation in South Korea, was selected as ENEC's Prime Contractor for the development of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the UAE.
KEPCO is one of the leading nuclear energy companies in the world in terms of safety, reliability and efficiency, as classified by WANO.
The UAE selected this company after a comprehensive year-long process conducted by a team of 75 international energy experts. The evaluation focused on several factors, most notably, safety and operational excellence. The APR1400 technology selected has since been certified by the US-based Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, highlighting the design's strong safety and reliability characteristics.
In 2010, the environmental impact assessment and licensing requests for preliminary works were submitted, and approval was obtained from the UAE's independent nuclear regulator the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, FANR.
In March 2012, ENEC submitted a construction license application for Barakah's Units three and four, and in May 2013, the safety nuclear concrete was poured for Unit 2 and the installation of major components had begun at Unit 1.
In October 2016, ENEC and KEPCO signed a Joint Venture agreement for a long-term partnership and cooperation for the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy programme.
Through the Joint Venture, Nawah Energy Company was established to operate and maintain the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant.
ENEC and KEPCO also announced the establishment of Barakah One Company PJSC, another independent subsidiary owned by both companies, which represents the commercial and financial interests of the Barakah project.
Under the JV, KEPCO has an 18 per cent stake in Nawah Energy Company and Barakah One Company, while ENEC owns the remaining 82 per cent.
In November 2016, Barakah One Company signed the first nuclear energy Power Purchase Agreement with Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company, now the Emirates Water and Electricity Company, for the purchase of the electricity to be generated at Barakah.
The agreement establishes the contractual framework between the two entities for the sale of the safe, clean, efficient and reliable electricity produced at Barakah.
In March 2018, construction was completed of Barakah Unit 1, and the first batch of Reactor Operators, ROs, and Senior Reactor Operators, SROs, were certified to operate by FANR in July 2019.
Emirati citizens account for 60 percent of the employees in ENEC and its subsidiary companies, and the total number of reactor operators is 72, including 42 Emirati ROs and SROs.
In the past decade, the UAE has welcomed the IAEA and WANO to carry out more than 40 review and inspection missions.
The success of these missions and FANR's stringent oversight has resulted in the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy programme being recognised as a role model for the development of a new civil nuclear energy programme and a global benchmark for a new build nuclear energy project.
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