UAE: Last nuclear reactor of Barakah power plant gets operating licence

Once all four units enter full operations, the UAE will be getting 25 per cent of its electricity from a clean, nuclear energy source


Ashwani Kumar

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Fri 17 Nov 2023, 2:56 PM

Last updated: Fri 17 Nov 2023, 6:02 PM

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) granted the operating licence for the fourth and final reactor of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, which is located in Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi.

The FANR, the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, issued the operating licence for Unit 4 to Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), which is responsible for the operation of the plant.

The licence, with a duration of 60 years, authorises Nawah to commission and operate the unit.

“Today marks a historic moment for the UAE, where it realised its vision that started 15 years ago in developing the-first-in-the-region peaceful nuclear energy programme," said Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE’s Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and deputy chairman of the Board of Management of the FANR.

In February 2020, March 2021, and June 2022, FANR issued the operating licences for Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3 respectively, and will continue to maintain its regulatory oversight for the entire period of operation of the 4 units. The third unit officially started commercial operations in February this year.

“The UAE Nuclear Programme will play a key role in providing 25 per cent of clean energy; hence, supporting the UAE Government's efforts to achieve its 2050 Net Zero Goals,” Al Kaabi said during a Press conference.

Today’s announcement is a culmination of efforts made by the FANR since it received the operating licence application from Nawah in 2017.

The regulator has conducted a thorough assessment of the application documentation, conducting robust regulatory oversight and inspections in the areas of safety, security and safeguards.

"The success of the UAE Nuclear Energy Programme and the ability to deliver it within a record span of time, adhering to the best international nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation standards, made the country a role model for many nations who are embarking on developing nuclear energy programmes,” said Al Kaabi.

What happens next

Following the issuance of the operating licence for Unit 4, Nawah will undertake a period of commissioning to prepare for the commercial operation.

The FANR will then be conducting round-the-clock inspections, led by its resident inspectors located at the plant in addition to deploying other inspectors, to ensure the fuel load and power accession processes are completed according to regulatory requirements.

90% Emirati nuclear experts

“The review of the operating licence application for Unit 4 was conducted by a team consisting of 90 per cent Emirati nuclear experts.

This indicates the success of FANR’s strategy in building the capability and skills of Emiratis to regulate the nuclear sector and ensure its safe operation,” said Christer Viktorsson, director-general of the FANR.

“The lengthy assessment process required reviewing the 14,000 page application for Units 3 and 4, conducting over 170 inspections in the area of nuclear and radiation safety, security and safeguards, and requesting additional information for Unit 4 on various matters related to reactor design, safety, security to ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements.”

To ensure the implementation of the highest international standards of nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation, the UAE received in the past decade 12 major peer review missions from the IAEA to review and assess various aspects of nuclear infrastructure, the legal and regulatory system, nuclear safety, nuclear security, emergency preparedness and non-proliferation. The reports from the missions of the IAEA are publicly available.


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