Abu Dhabi: The UAE is on track to commission the first of four planned nuclear power plants in May, 2017, with one coming on stream each year until 2020, when all four will be operational.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation started construction work on its second nuclear energy plant earlier this year following regulatory approvals. Construction of Unit 1 commenced in July 2012. Enec is building a total of four nuclear energy plants in Barakah, in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.

With four plants online by 2020, nuclear energy will deliver up to a quarter of the nation’s electricity needs, while saving the UAE up to 12 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Enec’s dedicated industrial development team has also been working with Kepco, the programme’s prime contractor, to help local companies develop their quality and technical standards to meet the nuclear industry’s strict requirements, as part of Enec’s commitment towards developing the local industry.

The UAE, which agreed to give up any enrichment or reprocessing activities in a 2009 treaty with the US, is often touted as a contrasting model to Iran and its ambiguous approach.

The UAE’s nuclear facilities are designed to withstand quakes of a much graver and much larger magnitude than those occurring here in the Gulf region, nuclear energy experts have assured.

The UAE, a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has agreed to open its nuclear plants to full international inspections and refrain from producing its own reactor fuel.

When ready, the Barakah site’s four 1,400 MW units are expected to produce 5,600 MW, which will be about 25 per cent of the total power requirements of the UAE.