The UAE’s first nuclear energy Reactor Vessel (RV) arrived at the site of the country’s nuclear energy programme, Barakah, on Tuesday, marking significant progress in the nation’s nuclear plan, official news agency WAM reported.
The Emirates is currently building four nuclear energy plants, and awarded the contract to construct the plants to a consortium led by the Korean Electric Power Company (KEPCO) in 2009.
Construction on the first nuclear reactor, Barakah 1, began in July 2012, and work on Units 1 and 2 is now over 44 per cent complete, according to officials. The third and fourth units are slated to begin commercial operations in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“With the arrival of our first Reactor Vessel, Energy Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and KEPCO remain on track to deliver the country’s first nuclear energy reactor, Barakah Unit 1, in 2017,” said Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of ENEC.
The RV is one of the largest components in a nuclear energy plant and is one of the many defense-in-depth barriers to ensure safety of the plant. Controlled nuclear reactions occurring inside the vessel release energy that is then converted into electricity.
“Peaceful nuclear energy plays a significant role in the future of our nation as these plants will provide us with electricity which we need to fulfill our needs,” WAM quoted Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s deputy PM as saying.
“In addition, the programme will provide many important opportunities for our national human resources, and will improve their skills and knowledge in order to contribute to UAE’s economic prosperity.”
The UAE and South Korea also signed three nuclear energy MoUs on Tuesday, reported WAM. The first, between ENEC and the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, calls for cooperation in developing a direct employment programme in nuclear energy for graduates from Korea.
The second MoU will help develop internship programmes and job opportunities in the sector for students of both nations, while the third agreement between ENEC, KEPCO and its subsidiaries will see the development of a local plant services industry in the UAE, the report said.
The UAE hopes to generate up to 25 per cent of its electricity needs through nuclear means by 2020 – when all the four plants are complete – and hopes the plants can help reduce 12 million tons of carbon emissions per year.