The United Arab Emirates independent nuclear regulator Monday issued the operating license for Unit 1 of the country’s $24.4 billion Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East, CNBC reported.
The project took more than 10 years to get to this point, and involved collaboration with external bodies including the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the government of South Korea, Kallanish Energy learns.
“Today’s announcement is another milestone for the UAE, culminating efforts of 12 years towards the development of the UAE Nuclear Energy Program to which the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) played a significant role to turn this vision into a reality,” Hamad al Kaabi, the UAE’s permanent representative to the IAEA, told a media briefing in Abu Dhabi.
Once operation of the plant begins (the exact date has not been announced), the UAE will become the newest member of an exclusive club of currently just 30 countries hosting nuclear power operations. It’s also the first new country to launch a nuclear power plant in 30 years, since China in 1990.
The operating license is expected to last 60 years, and allows the UAE’s Nawah Energy Co., the Emirates Nuclear Energy Co.’s (ENEC) subsidiary operating the plant, to start loading fuel and eventually move into partial and full operation of the first unit, al Kaabi told CNBC.
Barakah’s Unit 1 reactor, located in the eastern Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi on the Persian Gulf coast, is expected to produce 1,400 megawatts of electricity. The project includes four reactors, together producing 5,600 MW of power, which officials say will amount to 25% of the country’s energy needs and will prevent the release of 21 million tons of carbon emissions annually, CNBC reported.
The project’s financing, as part of a joint venture agreement between ENEC and the Korean Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), totals $24.4 billion.
There is no estimated date for the completion of all four reactors, but al Kaabi said the additional three reactors are in “advanced levels of construction.” Unit 2 is ready to be evaluated by FANR for readiness.
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