The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has installed the steam generators and the reactor vessel (RV) at Unit 4 of the Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi, it announced on Monday.
Unit 4 is the final unit at the $20bn plant.
The RV is one of the most important and largest components in a nuclear energy plant. Weighing over 500 tonnes and measuring almost 15 metres in height, the RV will eventually contain the controlled nuclear reaction that will generate electricity. It is also one of the many defence-in-depth barriers that ensure the safety of nuclear energy plants.
Meanwhile steam generators, which are similar in length to a tennis court, also play a key role in converting the energy generated by the nuclear fission reaction in the RV into electricity. The heat generated in the RV is transferred to the steam generator, which turns water into steam and which in turn is then used to spin a turbine and generate electricity.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of ENEC said: “The UAE’s peaceful nuclear energy programme supports the Abu Dhabi Plan by contributing to a diversified energy mix and sustainable, long term economic growth.
“The installation of the final reactor vessel and steam generators, as per the 2009 prime contract, is a great achievement.”
In May, ENEC announced that the launch of its first nuclear reactor would be delayed since it hadn’t receives regulatory approval.
The start of nuclear operations for Unit 1 has been pushed back from 2017 to 2018.
The move will ensure “sufficient time for international assessments and adherence to nuclear industry safety standards, as well as a reinforcement of operational proficiency for plant personnel,” the company said at the time.
In its statement on Monday, ENEC confirmed that work on the project was “progressing steadily” with construction of the four units now more than 82 per cent complete.
Unit 1 is more than 96 per cent complete, Unit 2 is 85 per cent done, Unit 3 is 75 per cent complete, and Unit 4 is over 52 per cent ready.
All four units will deliver nuclear energy to the UAE grid, pending regulatory reviews and licencing. When the four reactors are completed, the plant is expected to deliver up to 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity needs from nuclear energy and save up to 21 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
“Nuclear energy plays a strategic role for the future of our nation, enabling economic and industrial growth, as well as careers in nuclear energy for Emirati youth,” said Jassim Mohammed Buatabh Al Zaabi, chairman of the Executive Committee Office and member of the Executive Council.
“It will also support in securing the energy sector by diversifying energy sources to meet the rapid growth of the national economy.”