Barakah 1 construction formally complete

26 March 2018

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan today attended a ceremony to celebrate the completion of construction at the United Arab Emirates' first nuclear power reactor.

Celebrations mark Barakah unit 1 completion (Image: Cheong Wa Dae)

Initial construction of the South Korean-designed APR-1400 pressurised water reactor, built for Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), was completed last year. Today's ceremony, held at the reactor site, marked the official completion of the construction phase. The focus for Barakah 1 now shifts to completing the preparations for operation needed to receive an operating licence from the UAE's nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).

According to the UAE's official WAM news agency, both leaders highlighted the importance of the milestone. "This is a historic moment in our nation's development as we celebrate the construction completion of Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant," bin Zayed said. "The UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme will play a strategic role in the growth of our nation by enhancing our energy security, diversifying our economy, and creating employment opportunities for our people, thereby helping secure the future of generations to come."

Enec chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, said the completion of construction at Barakah meant the UAE had joined an "elite group of countries" to have built such a facility. "This milestone is a testament to the vision and commitment of the UAE's leadership and the strength of ENEC's partnership with our prime contractor and joint venture partner, KEPCO. Now, our focus is on the transition to the safe start-up of Unit 1 nuclear operations," he said.

Barakah represents the first exports for Korea's APR-1400, a third-generation, 1400 MWe pressurised water reactor with an operating life of 60 years. The first APR-1400, Shin Kori unit 3, entered commercial operation in Korea in 2016. The design of the Barakah plant has been adapted to suit the UAE's unique climate conditions and requirements of the FANR.

Four APR-1400s are under construction at the site, in the Dhafrah region of Abu Dhabi, 53 kilometres south-west of the city of Ruwais. The first phase of pre-operational tests - including cold hydrostatic testing, structural integrity testing, integrated leak rate testing, and pre-operational hot functional testing - have already been completed at Barakah 1. The next phases of pre-operational tests require fuel to be loaded in the reactor and can only begin after the plant's operator, Nawah Energy Company, receives an operating licence.

Unit 2 is now more than 92% complete, with unit 3 more than 81% complete and unit 4 more than 67% complete. All four units are scheduled for completion by 2020. According to Enec, the construction of the project as a whole was 87% complete as of the end of February. When operational, the four Barakah units will provide up to a quarter of the UAE's electricity needs.

International view

Ahead of the opening ceremony President Moon commented that the success of the Barakah nuclear power plant could be said to be the joint success of South Korea and the UAE. Speaking at a summit ahead of the Barakah ceremony, he said the UAE has agreed to cooperate with Korea in its efforts to win orders for nuclear power plant construction projects in Saudi Arabia. However, South Korea's own domestic energy policy aims to stop construction of new nuclear power reactors and not extend the operation of existing units beyond their original design life.

Agneta Rising, Director General of World Nuclear Association, said today's ceremony was an important step towards start-up of the first reactor at Barakah. "The UAE will soon benefit from the reliable supply of clean electricity that Barakah will produce," she said. “The UAE's policy of reducing electricity generation from fossil fuels by developing a mix of clean energy technologies that includes a substantial contribution from nuclear energy is one that should be embraced worldwide, including in South Korea. Using nuclear energy will help ensure the swiftest and most cost-effective transition to a clean, secure and reliable energy future," she added.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News