Nuclear Program Background & Details

By Wam (kt Archives)

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2010, 8:47 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 11:24 AM

Energy Demand

The Government of Abu Dhabi established ENEC following an evaluation of the UAE’s future energy needs that determined the country would need to substantially increase its generating capacity to meet expected electricity demand.

The UAE’s evaluation of its energy needs was wide-ranging and resulted in the following findings:

That volumes of natural gas that could be made available to the nation’s electricity sector would be insufficient to meet future demand.

That the burning of liquids (crude oil and/or diesel) would be logistically viable but both costly and environmentally harmful.

That coal-fired power generation while potentially cheaper, would be environmentally unacceptable, and potentially vulnerable from a security of supply standpoint.

And finally, that the deployment of renewable and other alternative energy supplies, while desirable, would only be able to supply approximately 6-7% of the required electricity generation capacity by 2020.

Factors that supported the decision to begin the program:

Economics – Well run nuclear energy plants are among the most efficient producers of electricity.

Security of fuel supply – Nuclear power plants have high availability factors (in excess of 90 %) and can operate for 18-24 months on a single fuel load.

Environment – Nuclear plants emit no greenhouse gases and represent an important tool for combating climate change.

Industrial Development – A sustainable nuclear energy program will create new service industries and high-value jobs, while enhancing economic development throughout the UAE.

Human Resource Development – Essential to the Program and the Nation

Central to the UAE’s approach to developing a nuclear energy program has been the importance of building a qualified workforce in the short and long term. ENEC has joined with the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research, the Institute of Applied Technology, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, other parts of the UAE educational system, as well as universities internationally to ensure that there will be a reservoir of talent, both Emirati and expatriate, well into the future. Current estimates are that the program will need between 2,100 and 2,300 staff by 2020. ENEC is committed to ensuring that talented Emirati women and men play a major role in the program – occupying positions of authority and responsibility in all aspects of the nuclear energy industry.

Nuclear Fuel – Strategies Under Development

ENEC is in the process of developing and implementing a strategy for the management of all nuclear fuel cycle activities including the procurement, use, and short- and long-term management of nuclear fuel for its nuclear power plants. The strategy conforms to guidelines established by the International Atomic Energy Agency and will be continually updated, taking into account new information and technological advances from the nuclear industry during the next decades, before the long-term spent fuel management plan is implemented.

The UAE Policy on Nuclear Energy

The UAE’s comprehensive approach to nuclear energy is detailed in the Policy of the United Arab Emirates on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy, a document released in April 2008. One of the main pillars of the policy is the decision to develop the program with safety and non-proliferation as its foundation, and to forgo domestic enrichment and reprocessing of nuclear fuel, the two parts of the nuclear fuel cycle that can most readily be used for non-peaceful purposes. This policy establishes a new model through which non-nuclear states may explore and potentially deploy nuclear energy with the full support and confidence of the international community. International observers and non-proliferation experts have called the UAE model the “gold standard” for developing a nuclear energy program.

The UAE has now signed or is in the process of signing agreements for cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear energy with numerous countries, including the France, Korea, the United States and others.


KEPCO, a government owned-utility, is the world’s third largest nuclear energy business with an installed nuclear generation capacity of 17,716MW as of the end of 2008. KEPCO operates 20 commercial nuclear power units as of 2009, with eight more units currently under construction and an additional 10 units planned to be built by 2030.

KEPCO is also recognized as a world leader in safety, and plant reliability and efficiency, as assessed by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), the international organization established to maximize the safety and reliability of the operation of nuclear power plants. KEPCO currently receives among the highest scores in the WANO Performance Indicator program, which quantifies performance standards for nuclear operators around the world.

Importantly, KEPCO has also developed a strong record for constructing nuclear power plants that meet stringent industry quality standards and are delivered on time and on budget.

KEPCO will supply the full scope of works and services for the UAE Civil Nuclear Power Program including engineering, procurement, construction, nuclear fuel and operations and maintenance support

with the assistance of other Korean members of the KEPCO team, including Samsung, Hyundai, Doosan Heavy Industries and KEPCO subsidiaries:

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. (KHNP), which will play a key role as the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor and operator

Korea Power Engineering Co., Inc. (KOPEC), which will provide the nuclear power plant design and engineering service

Korea Nuclear Fuel Co., Ltd. (KNF), which will provide the nuclear fuel

Korea Plant Service and Engineering Co., Ltd. (KPS), which will be involved in plant maintenance

Non-Korean companies involved in the KEPCO team include Westinghouse of the US, and Toshiba of Japan.

The Technology

ENEC has decided to build KEPCO’s APR1400, a Generation III, 1400 Megawatt nuclear power plant with evolutionary improvements in safety, performance, and environmental impact that meets the highest international standards for safety and performance. The APR1400 design was developed by the Korean nuclear industry under the leadership of KEPCO over a period of 10 years beginning 1992. A certificate for the standard design approval was issued for the APR1400 by the Korean regulatory authority in 2002. The APR1400 is similar to, but represents an improvement over, the System 80+ design which was previously certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the United States.

The first of the APR1400 units, Shin-Kori units 3&4, are now under construction, having obtained a Construction Permit from the Korean regulatory authority. Shin-Kori unit 3 will be connected to Korea’s grid by 2013. The first UAE nuclear power plant will be the fifth unit of the APR1400 plants in the world, and Shin-Kori plants will serve as the “reference plants” for the UAE program. As such, KEPCO will construct plants that are essentially the same as the “reference plants,” but supplemented with changes required to adapt to UAE climactic conditions and any specific requirements of the UAE nuclear safety regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).

Enhanced Safety

As a Generation III reactor, the APR1400 has been designed to meet heightened safety goals developed in accordance with the latest international safety standards, which aim to secure an additional margin of safety to protect the public health. The APR1400 design incorporates more than 30 years of operational learning and resulting enhancements to safety, reliability and efficiency.

The APR1400 safety system is designed to prevent or mitigate severe accidents by ensuring reactor shutdown, removing decay heat, maintaining the integrity of the containment facility, and preventing radioactive releases. It is designed to meet the procedural requirements and criteria of the US NRC regulations, including the post Three Mile Island (TMI) accident requirements for new plants. In

addition, the building and structures in the UAE plants will be designed to fulfill the latest requirements for earthquake safety and aircraft impact resistance.

By deploying only a third-generation design, the UAE’s future fleet of nuclear reactors will boast safety levels significantly above those of existing nuclear fleets that are still dominated by second-generation designs.

ENEC Evaluation Process

ENEC’s year-long prime contractor selection process was designed to identify the best long-term partner for the UAE as it undertakes its civil nuclear energy program. The process was guided by the Policy of the United Arab Emirates on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy, which set strict standards for safety and security, non proliferation and sustainability.

Specifically, ENEC focused on five core criteria in reaching its final decision.

Safety – All three teams involved in the Prime Contractor Selection process demonstrated that their technology and safety programs fully met the latest international standards and that their operational safety performance was among the world’s highest.

Having all met that most important criterion, the three teams were further evaluated against the remaining criteria:

Deliverability – A demonstrated ability to meet the ENEC program goals and to begin delivering electricity to the UAE power grid in 2017.

Contract Compliance – Conformance with ENEC’s proposed “prime contractor” business structure, which was designed to ensure that accountability for project deliverables would rest with a single prime contractor entity, while appropriately minimizing the contractor integration and management burden on ENEC.

Human Resource Development – A commitment to, and detailed planning for, human resource development in the UAE in support of the development of a sustainable, domestically sourced nuclear energy workforce that is dominated by competent national talent.

Commercial Competitiveness – A commercial proposal that promoted UAE economic competitiveness via the provision of low-cost electricity and via the establishment of partnering opportunities to accelerate the development of the UAE nuclear industry, as well as appropriately assigned risk reflecting the long-term nature of the commercial and operational relationship contemplated within the draft prime contract.

A team of 75 dedicated experts evaluated the bids during the last year. Collectively, the team boasted more than 900 years of directly relevant experience in the nuclear industry. The team was made up of experts in the following fields: nuclear power plant safety, design and construction; operations and maintenance; nuclear quality assurance, supply chain management and procurement; nuclear fuel procurement and management (including safeguards, non proliferation and spent fuel management); siting analysis (including environmental impact assessment, seismology, geology, meteorology and hydrology); finance (including generation cost modeling and project finance); legal and contracting; program management; utility operations; and communications and community relations.

KEPCO is expected to begin mobilizing its team in Abu Dhabi immediately. Mr. Hee Yong Lee, one of KEPCO’s most senior executives, will lead the UAE project. A trained nuclear engineer, Mr. Lee has worked for KEPCO for more than 30 years in the fields of construction management, quality assurance, long-term power planning, as well as in training, commissioning and operations at nuclear power plants.

Mr. Lee has also worked for KEPCO in New York and Paris, specializing in quality surveillance, manufacturing oversight and contract management of overseas construction projects. He also served as quality assurance manager for the commissioning of Yonggwang units 5&6. Earlier in his career, Mr. Lee served as a simulator instructor and shift supervisor as a licensed senior reactor operator at Ulchin units 1&2 and Yonggwang units 1&2.


ENEC is currently in the advanced stages of evaluating a number of potential sites for nuclear power plants throughout all regions of the UAE. A team of UAE and international experts is conducting detailed scientific studies on seismology, geology, environment impact and other factors related to siting. That study and others will contribute to the final decision on where to build the units.

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