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UAE Gets Closer to Commissioning First Ever Nuclear Plant

The UAE is hardly the country one thinks would rely on nuclear energy, but times are changing, and the emirates are all for renewable energy and a varied energy mix. The latest in this respect was the successful installation of the third reactor vessel at its first-ever nuclear power plant Barakah. When completed, Barakah will have the capacity to satisfy a quarter of the nation’s energy needs. It will also save some 12 million tons of greenhouse emissions annually.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, which is building the plant, said that with the installation of the #3 reactor vessel, the construction of units 1-4 is now at 65 percent of completion. The reactor vessel is where the nuclear reaction will happen once the plant becomes operational. It’s 15 meters high and weighs more than 400 tons. The vessel is also one of the built-in defense mechanisms designed to prevent accidents.

Commenting on this latest milestone on the road to adopting nuclear power, the chief executive of ENEC, Mohammad Al Hammadi, said, “Enec is committed to delivering a world-class nuclear energy programme and, as we move from construction through to operations, we continue to improve, particularly in the overall project management. The phased approach to completing each unit with a substantial amount of time between each one means each unit’s development adopts the efficiencies learned from the previous one.”

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Earlier this month, ENEC successfully completed a series of essential tests on Unit 1 of Barakah, which is currently at 88 percent of completion. The tests evaluate the strength of the reactor containment building as well as its leak tightness.

The decision to build a nuclear power plant in the UAE was made in 2009, to satisfy the country’s growing electricity needs, which were estimated to double between 2009 and 2020.

The US$20-billion project was awarded to a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Co and also including Westinghouse, Samsung, Hyundai, Japan’s Toshiba, and Doosan Heavy Industries. The plant’s last reactor is expected to be fully operational in 2020.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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