Construction of the Barakah nuclear plant by a consortium of builders led by Korea Electric Power Corporation started in 2012 and it is expected to be completed by 2020. Image Credit: Courtesy: Enec

Abu Dhabi: The UAE is due to commission the Arab world’s first nuclear power reactor this year.

Of the four nuclear reactors with a capacity of 1400 megawatt (MW) each at Barakah in Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, the first one is getting ready and the remaining three reactors will go online by 2020.

The state-run Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) said in January that Unit 1 is currently undergoing commissioning and testing, prior to regulatory review and receipt of the Operating Licence from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).

Since its inception in 2009, Enec has focused on the safe delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme. Unit 4 is more than 60 per cent complete, Unit 3 is more than 79 per cent, and Unit 2 more than 90 per cent, said an Enec press release issued in early January.

All four units with a combined output of 5,600MW will deliver clean, efficient and reliable electricity to the UAE grid. When the four reactors are completed, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant will save up to 21 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

“Barakah nuclear energy plant, as the first nuclear energy plant in the Arab world, sets a new standard for all countries developing or looking to develop peaceful nuclear energy programmes, and will support the case for the creation of new programmes around the world,” said Mohammad Al Hammadi, Enec CEO.

Construction began in 2012 by a consortium of builders led by the South Korean power giant, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

The plant is an important part of the UAE’s efforts to diversify its energy sources.

Apart from the UAE, some other Arab states — Egypt, Sudan, Jordan and Saudi Arabia — have also announced construction of nuclear power projects.

Around 448 nuclear energy plants are currently operating in 30 countries with an additional 58 under construction. Nuclear energy provides 11 per cent of the world’s electricity, while emitting virtually no greenhouse gases.

Enec has been regularly organising public forums to educate residents about the functioning of the nuclear reactors. The Enec CEO said: “We are dedicated to educating, updating and listening to our citizens on the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme through these public forums. This is a historic project for our nation and one of considerable significance to the future development of the UAE. The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, through the generation of clean, efficient and reliable energy for the UAE grid, will act as a catalyst for the transformation and diversification of our economy and society,” Al Hammadi said.

During the forums, common misconceptions on a variety of issues were dispelled by Enec specialists who provided the scientific facts on radiation and its prevalence in nature.

A new virtual reality application, which is available to the public on www.enec.gov.ae/360, provides users with a virtual tour of the Barakah plant.