The first of four South Korean nuclear reactors committed in the 2009 Barakah plant project for $20 billion went into activity in Abu Dhabi for the first nuclear fuel production in the Middle East based on Korea’s homegrown next-gen reactor technology.
[Photo provided by KEPCO]
Nawah, the nuclear operations and maintenance joint venture of Korea’s state utility K Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) of the United Arab Emirates, has started up Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, located 270 kilometers west of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Gulf nation, according to an announcement released by ENEC on Saturday (local time).
The start-up is the first step in activating a reactor, with steam created and turbine turned to generate electricity. After safety tests over the next several weeks, the Unit 1 reactor will be connected to the UAE’s electricity grid. The unit received operation license from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulations in February and completed fuel assembly loading in March. The Unit 1 was due to open in 2017 but there have been several delays by the UAE government.
The Unit 1 is the first of four reactors that KEPCO consortium has been building with the Korean firm’s technology to produce 5.6 gigawatts of electricity, which is equivalent to nearly a quarter of the Middle Eastern nation’s electricity needs.
KEPCO secured the deal to build four nuclear reactors in December 2009, and another contract to operate the power plant in 2016. It is Korea’s first export of its self-developed reactor design of APR-1400 based on advanced pressurized water nuclear reactor.
The construction of Unit 2 is also completed and operational start is underway. Unit 3 and 4 reactors are also in the final stage of construction.
By Oh Chan-jong and Cho Jeehyun
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