UAE nuclear power plant’s first reactor ready for operation

Once fuel assemblies are loaded into the reactor, Nawah will begin the start-up sequence for testing.
Sunday 02/02/2020
The first unit at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Al-Dafrah. (AFP)
A major milestone. The first unit at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Al-Dafrah. (AFP)

DUBAI - The first reactor at the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant passed a milestone assessment needed to begin operations, UAE state news agency WAM said.

Nawah Energy Company concluded requirements and was expected to load the first fuel assemblies into Unit 1 of the Barakah plant during the first quarter of 2020, WAM reported January 28.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and its subsidiary Nawah said an operational readiness assessment, conducted by the Atlanta Centre of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), concluded that Unit 1 was ready to start up, WAM said.

During the WANO assessment in November, teams examined functional areas essential for the safe operation of the unit. The results were said to confirm that Unit 1 was ready to be started.

“The fact that our first unit and our team of experts successfully completed this international start-up assessment by WANO is a major milestone for the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme,” ENEC CEO Mohamed al-Hammadi told WAM.

“It provides international recognition that our plant, people and processes meet international start-up standards and that the Barakah plant fully aligns to the commitments made in 2008 by the nation of complete operational transparency and the pursuit of the highest standards of safety, quality and security.

“We take this achievement with great responsibility while we continue to support Nawah in obtaining regulatory approval… to safely and gradually commence producing clean, safe and reliable electricity to power the growth of the UAE for the next 60 years.”

The WANO assessment was an important step towards Nawah receiving an operating licence from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, the UAE’s nuclear regulator.

“Successfully completing WANO’s [assessment] of Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is a testament to our commitment to the highest national and international regulations and standards,” said Nawah CEO Mark Reddemann.

“As we progress towards the secure and safety-led start-up of Unit 1, we will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure that we demonstrate our readiness to receive the operating licence from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, as we work to pursue the highest standards of operational excellence.”

Once fuel assemblies are loaded into the reactor, Nawah will begin the start-up sequence for testing during which operators gradually raise power generation levels over several months prior to commercial operation.

Barakah will be the United Arab Emirates’ first nuclear plant and the world’s largest when completed, with four reactors and 5,600 megawatts of electrical generation capacity. It is being built by Korea Electric Power Corporation.

(WAM and Reuters) 

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