With completion of nuclear fuel loading at unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear power plant earlier this week, the UAE has become the Arab World's first peaceful nuclear energy operating nation.
The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said the milestone was achieved earlier this week following completion of the "safe and quality-driven" process to load 241 nuclear fuel assemblies into the APR1400 reactor at Barakah 1.
Fuel loading began in February after ENEC received and operating licence from the UAE's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).
The operations were led by a team of highly-trained and FANR-certified fuel operators. Over 90% were Emirati experts who were previously trained in the APR-1400 technology in South Korea, ENEC said.
“Our teams have been training over the years to safely progress towards providing the UAE with clean, reliable and abundant electricity to power our economic and societal growth," said Mohamed Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC.
"Today, we are very proud as the UAE joins a limited group of nations who have achieved the global standards necessary to become peaceful nuclear operating nations."
Barakah 1 will now begin Power Ascension Testing (PAT), in which the systems are safely and gradually tested to move into full electricity production.
PAT testing will be led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and will take into account lessons learned from operations at two APR-1400 units in South Korea.
Once the process is completed over a number of months, ENEC said the plant will begin "delivering abundant baseload electricity to power the growth and prosperity of the UAE for decades to come."
Four 1400MW reactors are planned for the Barakah nuclear energy plant in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. Overall construction of the four units is currently more than 93% complete. ENEC said work at Barakah 4 is more than 83% complete, Barakah 3 is more than 91% and Barakah 2 is more than 95%.
Once operating, the four units at Barakah will generate up to 25% of the UAE’s electricity demand.
Photo: Barakah nuclear plant in the UAE (Credit: ENEC)