U.A.E. completes its first commercial nuclear plant

In collaboration with Korea Electrical Power Corporation, the United Arab Emirates has completed the nation’s first commercial nuclear plant. This is being viewed as a significant step for the oil-rich region and its goal to move towards a cleaner energy future.

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The energy ministry of South Korea suggested that the Unit 1 of the Barakah site will commence fuel loading in May this year but it is unclear exactly when it will start producing power for the U.A.E.

On Monday, the South Korean President visited the UAE to celebrate the completion of the nuclear site.

The regulator director for the Nuclear Regulation has confirmed that both Units 1 and 2 at Barakah will be supplied an operating license once all regulatory requirements have been passed.

Barakah Unit 1 is the first of a series of nuclear plants that the UAE intends to develop and be operating by 2020. Collectively, the nuclear plants are forecasted to cost in excess of $20 billion and produce over 5,500 MW of energy. Other countries in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have also confirmed they will be developing nuclear projects to support growing populations and energy demands.

The government of the UAE believes the Barakah sites will provide nearly a quarter of the total energy required once completed. The chief executive officer of the Emirates Nuclear energy Corporation highlighted at a recent conference that the U.A.E. currently relies on the importing of natural gas to provide most of its energy needs.

Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi explains that the ‘Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program in the U.A.E’ will provide a strategic place in the development of the nation, providing energy security, generating more employment and overall diversifying the economy.

Barakah will be the first commercial nuclear site in the Middle East outside of Iran. Unit one was expected to be operational by 2017 but was delayed slightly to provide additional time for international assessments and confirmation of safety standards. The focus now is on obtaining approvals of operating licenses. 

Development of the Barakah sites started back in 2012 with experts suggesting that Unit 2 is very near completion with 3 and 4 both over half completed. Korea Electric and ENEC in the UAE are partnering in the project and will be overseeing the operation and management of the Barakah site. Both businesses confirmed they intend to expand their nuclear focus overseas, including involvement in the proposed developments in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia intends to develop over 15 nuclear plants over the next 30 years at a projected cost of approximately $80 billion.

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