First reactor at UAE’s $25bn Barakah nuclear plant complete – but delayed

The construction phase has been completed on the United Arab Emirates’ first nuclear reactor, however regulatory checks will delay its entry into service until 2018, it was announced at the end of last week.

Mohamed Al Hammadi, the chief executive of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), said in a press statement that the delay was agreed by the corporation’s board to "ensure sufficient time for international assessments and adherence to nuclear industry safety standards, as well as a reinforcement of operational proficiency for plant personnel".

It had been reported in January that the plant might have begun operations in May.

The Barakah nuclear plant is being built by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) for Enec in the west of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, 53km southwest of the city of Ruwais.

When fully completed in 2020 it will have four APR-1400 reactors with a total output of 5.6GW, enough to supply almost a quarter of the UAE’s electricity requirements.

The APR-1400 is a Generation III pressurised water type developed by Kepco during the 1990s. So far, only one APR-1400 has been completed, at the Shin Kori plant in Busan; as well as the four being built at Barakah, another three are under construction in Korea.

The first reactor has now been given to Kepco subsidiary Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power for the testing and commissioning of its 277 systems. Once the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation approves the construction, the loading of fuel will begin. When complete, the reactor will be operated by the Nawah Energy Company, a joint venture of Enec and Kepco

ENEC signed its contract with Kepco in 2009, and construction work began in 2012. If the reactor is completed successfully, it will put Kepco in good position to bid for further nuclear power stations in the region. It is the largest programme of work is in Saudi Arabia, with 16 reactors estimated to be built over the next 25 years.

Image: Barakah will be completed in stages over the next three years (IAEA)

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