Uae Ready to Start-Up Its First Nuclear Reactor. Which Country Will Be Next in 2020?

The first unitof the Barakah nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates has received itsoperating licence from the UAE’s Federal Office of Nuclear Regulation (FANR)and commenced loading its first charge of nuclear fuel. The start-up has beeneagerly awaited, as is was originally planned for 2017. The reasons for thosedelays have now been overcome and the international community is confident theplant is in a full state of readiness to produce electricity.

The UAE’snuclear programme has been subject to many international peer reviews. TheInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has conducted 11 such reviews, withthe last two being the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) in July2018, and, in September 2019, its emergency preparedness. In addition, theWorld Association of Nuclear Operators, WANO, has undertaken 30 supportmissions and peer reviews, the latest of which concluded that following anextensive operational readiness assessment, Unit 1 is ready for start-up.

Mr. Mark Reddemann,Chief Executive Officer of Nawah Energy Company (Barakah’s operator), said: “Successfullycompleting WANO’s PSUR [Pre-start Up Review] of Unit 1 of the Barakah NuclearEnergy Plant is a testament to our commitment to the highest national andinternational regulations and standards. As we progress towards the secure andsafety-led start-up of Unit 1, we will continue to work closely with ourpartners to ensure we demonstrate our readiness to receive the OperatingLicense from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, as we work to pursuethe highest standards of operational excellence.”

In a recentarticle entitled A Strategic Perspective of Barakah: a Success inInternational Cooperation, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the IAEA,Hamad Alkaabi, said “Thanks to our visionary leadership, along with a teamof remarkable experts working in close collaboration with internationalentities, we have worked over the span of a decade to steadily progress tobecome the 33rd nation to enable nuclear operations for peaceful purposes.”

The four-unit5600 MW(e) plant is being developed jointly by the Emirates Nuclear EnergyCorporation (ENEC) and Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). The four 1400MW(e) APR-1400 units, based on the Shin Kori 3 & 4 reactors in South Korea,will supply nearly 25% of the UAE’s energy needs and save 21 million tons ofCO2 emission each year. With Unit 1 completed, Unit 2 is at 93% completion andUnits 3 and 4 are at 91% 82% respectively.

Another countryabout to embark on a new nuclear future is Belarus. Their two 1194 MW(e)reactors are Russian designed VVERs and fully constructed, awaiting thego-ahead to load their first fuel. As with the UAE, the country’s ability tooperate a nuclear power plant has been subject to international peer review bythe IAEA and WANO.

Bangladesh andTurkey have started construction of their first power reactors, and Egypt iswell advanced in developing its nuclear infrastructure. Saudi Arabia is alsorapidly developing its plans to construct two large nuclear plants, as well assmaller plants for desalination purposes.

Worldwide, newreactor construction is now at a 30-year high, with more newcomer countriesembarking on nuclear programmes. If these programmes are successful, it willresult in a corresponding reduction in the dependency on fossil fuels.

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