Barakah 1 receives generation licence

25 July 2018

The United Arab Emirates' Department of Energy has issued an electricity generation licence to Barakah One Company, a key regulatory requirement prior to operation of the UAE's first nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, nuclear operating company Nawah and the UAE's nuclear regulator have taken further steps to develop the Emirati nuclear workforce.

Barakah units 1-4 (Image: ENEC)

Construction of the first of four Korean-designed APR-1400 units at Barakah, in the Dhafrah region of Abu Dhabi, began in 2012 and was formally declared complete in March. The unit must receive an operating licence from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) before fuel loading and operation can begin. The electricity generation licence is one of the requirements that must be met before FANR can issue an operating licence.

Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, chairman of the Department of Energy, said the generation licence was the first of its kind in the region that will ultimately allow it to generate electricity from peaceful nuclear energy.

"Barakah One Company has demonstrated its commitment to all requirements which reflects the completion of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in line with the highest standards of safety, security, quality and transparency," Al Marar said in remarks reported by the official WAM news agency.

The Barakah plant will be operated and maintained by Nawah, a subsidiary of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco). Barakah One Company is an independent joint venture subsidiary of ENEC and Kepco formed in 2016 to represent the commercial and financial interests of the Barakah project.

Growing the nuclear workforce

As well as obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals, Enec has previously stated the need to train sufficient nuclear operators before Barakah 1 can start operations, which is expected in late 2019 or early 2020. The UAE is also working to build a suitably trained and qualified workforce to support its new nuclear programme.

Seven recently graduated Emirati engineers have joined FANR's flagship Developee Engineers Programme, which is part of the regulator's strategy to build long-term sustainability in the nuclear sector workforce. The seven will undertake a year-long nuclear regulatory development programme including a mix of technical and ‘soft’ skills, a rotation through FANR's operational departments to learn the nuclear regulator's functions, an intensive 13-week nuclear fundamentals course, four further job rotation modules and an overseas study tour.

Nawah has celebrated the graduation of 195 students specialising in nuclear technology as part of its Energy Pioneers scholarship programme. The students have completed nuclear science and technology focused courses at institutions including Khalifa University (Abu Dhabi) and Abu Dhabi Polytechnic in the UAE and Pennsylvania State University, Texas A&M University and North Carolina State University in the USA.

The Energy Pioneers programme was launched by ENEC in 2010 with the aim of developing human capability and ensuring a talented and committed workforce for the UAE's nuclear energy programme throughout its construction and operational phases. To date, more than 500 UAE nationals have benefitted from a scholarship through the programme. About 200 young Emiratis are also currently training to become reactor operators and senior reactor operators.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News