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UAE becomes first gulf nation to produce nuclear energy

The commercial operations of the nuclear reactor are expected to begin later this year.

Aug 3, 2020 10:16 IST
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become the first country in the Arab world to produce nuclear energy. This was confirmed after it was announced on August 1, 2020 that Unit 1 of the Abu Dhabi-based Barakah nuclear power plant has now become operational.

Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear power plant is now using nuclear fuel to produce energy as part of the ‘criticality’ phase. which was initiated on July 31st. The nuclear reactor will be connected to the power grid will provide electricity during the upcoming testing phase.

The commercial operations of the nuclear reactor are expected to begin later this year. Nuclear power is expected to help power businesses and homes across the nation using clean energy.

Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid confirmed the successful operation of the plant through a post of twitter. The tweet read, "Today we announce the UAE's success in operating the first peaceful nuclear reactor in the Arab world at Barakah Nuclear Plant Abu Dhabi."

The tweet further read that the teams were successful in loading nuclear fuel packages, running comprehensive tests and successfully beginning operation.

Significance

The UAE aims to operate four nuclear power plants, which will provide one-quarter of the country's energy needs in a safe, reliable and emission-free way.

Barakah nuclear plant

• The Barakah nuclear power plant is UAE’s first nuclear power station. It is located around 280 kilometres away from the capital in Al Dhafra region,

• The power plant will consist of four units that will supply a total of 5,600 megawatts of energy. It is expected to produce enough electricity to cover 25 per cent of the country’s energy needs. 

• The power plant's operation will also prevent the release of 21 million tons of carbon emissions each year, which is equal to removing 3.2 million cars off the roads each year. Most of UAE's energy needs currently are fulfilled from gas-fired power plants and some solar fields. 

• The power plant is being constructed by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), which is the prime contractor. 

• Almost 94 percent construction of the power plant has been completed. While 2 reactors are ready, the third is 92 percent complete and the fourth and the final one is 85 percent complete. 

Background

The UAE is the first gulf country and the 33rd nation globally to develop a nuclear energy power plant to generate safe, clean, and reliable baseload electricity. The country had unveiled its ambitions to set up a nuclear energy programme in 2008 and the construction of the nuclear power plant has taken more than a decade.

Besides the UAE, the world's top crude oil exporter Saudi Arabia has also accelerated its plans to acquire nuclear energy. The Arab nation is expected to prequalify several international companies next month to bid for building two nuclear reactors.

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