Introducing the Arab World’s First Nuclear Power Reactor

13 March 2018

Lab Chat

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will welcome their first nuclear power reactor in 2018. In doing so, they’re hoping to establish an efficient and reliable source of electricity. With plans established in 2009, the first of four plants will open this year with the other reactors going online by 2020. So, what does this mean for the future of energy in the UAE?

Nuclear power nearly here

With the final preparations underway, the hope of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) is to finalise Unit 1 out of 4 reactors at Barakah in Al Dhafa region of Abu Dhabi. When all plants are up and running, the combined output is said to be 5,600MW, which will save up to 21 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Carbon emissions are a global problem, with other nations, including the UK, diversifying their energy - mixing renewable and nuclear to ensure that demand can be met. So, when the UAE accepted the $20 billion bid from South Korea to build commercial power reactors, they chose the site at Barakah on the coast as the perfect place to set up this new energy source.

Preparing the reactors

Since the beginning of the nuclear power journey the ENEC have been concerned with safely completing each unit under the Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programmes. This meant thorough inspections, verifications and certifications. With a vast array of safety programmes and top organisations the professionals are set for anything that is thrown at them – including security, fuel storage and daily operations.

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) have been tightly monitoring the units, using state-of-the-art equipment. This includes running test drills to examine radioactivity levels and the effects on the environment. Clearly, there’s no cutting corners when it comes to maintaining safe sources of energy in the UAE.

Market research has also been conducted to understand public opinion when it comes to power reactors in the region. Of those surveyed, 83% said there were strongly in favour of nuclear power. And, 90% of respondents believed that the power plant was being built “to the highest standards of safety and quality.”

The future of nuclear power in UAE

Nuclear power is a significant global energy resource, providing 11% of the world’s electricity already. The hope with the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is to make a reliable contribution to the UAE energy pool by 2020.

Officials also hope that it will provide a “catalyst for the transformation and diversification” of the UAE economy and society. As the first nuclear power source in the Arab world it sets a new precedent for future programmes.

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