The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) announced that it has granted the construction license to Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) to build the third and fourth units of the Barakah Nuclear facility in the Western region of Abu Dhabi.
The license authorises ENEC to construct two Korean-designed, advanced pressurised water reactors of the type known as the APR1400, each capable of producing 1,400 megawatts of electricity, state news agency WAM reported.
The granting of the construction license for the third and fourth units followed an intensive 18-month review by about 200 FANR and other technical experts.
The experts examined all relevant safety factors including the adequacy of the reactor site, the design of the facility, the safety analysis, management systems and quality assurance for construction, radiation safety measures, physical protection and safeguards, a statement said.
Earlier this year, the nuclear agency said that it received approval for additional civil works under a limited construction license. The approval is expected to help ensure that the units remain on schedule to begin commercial operations in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
Further on, ENEC is expected to apply for a separate operating license before it can begin operating the reactors as the current approval only covers the construction of the units.
The nuclear agency is also expected to submit an application for an operating license for the units 1 and 2 of the Barakah facility. Unit 1 is scheduled to enter commercial operations in 2017 while Unit 2 is scheduled for operations in 2018, pending regulatory approvals.
“The latest license approval illustrates the significant progress the UAE has achieved in its nuclear energy programme,” said Ahmed Al Mazrouei, chairman of the FANR board of management.
He added that the review also incorporated lessons learnt from the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
“The FANR team is dedicated to ensuring that nuclear energy in the UAE is pursued safely, securely and peacefully,” said William D. Travers, FANR’s director general.
“In addition to our detailed review of ENEC’s operating license application, FANR will continue to closely monitor construction at the Barakah site, and will verify that all rules and regulations are followed before it grants any authorisation to ENEC to commence operations.”
In order to diversify its energy production, the UAE has been stepping up its nuclear power generation programme. By 2020, four nuclear plants will be generating up to a quarter of the nation’s electricity supply.