Construction of Middle East’s first nuclear power plant (unit 2) commenced today as UAE government officials celebrate where Abu Dhabi breaks ground on this achievement.
The first atomic power plant is one of the fastest deployment schedules for nuclear power in history according to Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency and board member of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation.
Abu Dhabi’s Barakah Nuclear Reactor Unit is South Korea’s first nuclear contract in the overseas market.
Korea Electric Power Corporation, the state nuclear company, is the key contractor for four reactors that are scheduled to come online between 2017 and 2020, in Abu Dhabi.
Yoon Sang-jick, South Korea’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, visited the construction site today at Barakah in Al Gharbia, Abu Dhabi where a ceremony was conducted by Emirati officials leading the work on the US$20 billion power plant.
Since the 1986 meltdown at the former Soviet Union’s Chernobyl plant, UAE is the first country to embrace a nuclear power project. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) had filed a 10,000-page construction license application for launch of the third and fourth reactors earlier this year. However, the UAE still must build up an approach for the disposal of radioactive waste.
Mark Hibbs, a senior associate for the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says that this project signifies how serious UAE is on its nuclear program. “It’s also an expression of continued confidence that it can deploy the technology on schedule and that it’s moving ahead on a project that is complex and requires a lot of inputs from a lot of different places.The management and the country’s leadership wants to set an example in the world in how a country with relatively few technical resources in this area is going to be deploying the technology.”
According to the Western Region Development Council, UAE’s civil nuclear program will be the primary drivers of economic diversification in AL Gharbia.
Al Gharbia, comprises of 60 per cent of the total area of the emirate of Abu Dhabi and 51 per cent of the land mass of the UAE has 7 cities: Liwa, Madinat Zayed, Ghayathi, Ruwais, Mirfa, Sila and Delma Island.
It also contributes 45 per cent of the country’s GDP, mainly through the oil and gas sector.