UAE INSPIRES GCC NUCLEAR FUTURE
With electricity demand in the GCC growing by 8 to %10 annually, the region is turning to nuclear to meet a twin challenge - how to diversify its electricity-generating mix while reducing reliance on fossil fuels
The United Arab Emirates is making progress on the construction of the first nuclear power plant in the GCC region. In July, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced that the first nuclear reactor would come online to start generating electric power in late 2019 or early 2020.
Construction of the UAE’s second nuclear power reactor is nearing completion with preoperational testing well underway. Pre-operational testing process incorporates all lessons learned from the same test on Unit 1.
Construction of Unit 2 began in April 2013, one year after Unit 1. Overall construction progress rate for the four Units is now more than 89%.
“Keeping construction progress approximately one year apart for each of the Units at Barakah makes it possible for us to implement all lessons learned from one Unit to the subsequent ones, in line with international best practices in the management of megaprojects,” says Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of ENEC.
Hot functional testing takes place over a number of weeks and consists of almost 200 individual and integrated tests performed on major systems to check their performance under normal operational conditions, without the presence of nuclear fuel in the reactor.
The test includes the first time that most of the reactor’s systems experience the operational temperature of nearly 300 degrees Celsius, ENEC said.
“The pre-operational commissioning phase of a nuclear energy plant is a complex and critical step towards starting to operate the plant. It is essential that it is tested under operational conditions without nuclear fuel to demonstrate that the highest standards of safety, security and quality are achieved,” said Al Hammadi.
All four units are expected will save up to 21 million tons of carbon emissions each year, equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars from the roads.
Barakah One, the joint venture between ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation representing the commercial and financial interests of the project, said recently that it had received an electricity generation licence from the UAE’s Department of Energy (DoE).
The licence is a key regulatory requirement before the Barakah nuclear energy plant in Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi, can start operations. Construction of the $25bn project began in 2011.
Nawah Energy Company, ENEC and KEPCO’s operating and maintenance subsidiary, also needs to obtain an operating license from the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, which regulates the industry according to international standards, to get the go-ahead for startup.
“Barakah One Company has demonstrated its commitment to all requirements,” says Awaidha Al Marar, the DoE chairman.
“One of the strategic objectives of the DoE is to guarantee energy security and sufficient supplies of energy, thus we look forward to strengthening our cooperation with ENEC and its subsidiaries
….. to meet the economic aspirations and needs of coming generations.”
The UAE is the first country in the region to have undertaken the project of generating electricity from nuclear energy -- one of the best solutions for the production of clean and efficient power to support UAE’s economic growth and