Construction work on the UAE's first two nuclear reactors is currently eight weeks ahead of schedule, it has been announced.
During a visit to the Barakah site in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Korean President Lee Myung-Bak, it was revealed that Units 1 and 2 are more than 20 percent complete.
Construction work by the project's prime contractor, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) started on the site in July.
Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and KEPCO said in comments published by news agency WAM that they had made a "strong start on construction work" following regulatory approval.
ENEC said in July it had started pouring the first nuclear safety concrete for Barakah Unit 1.
ENEC said it will apply for an operating licence for Unit 1 in 2015 and will pour concrete for Unit 2 in 2013.
ENEC is building a total of four reactors at the Barakah site, the first which will be operational in 2017, with one additional reactor becoming operational each year up to 2020.
Sheikh Mohammed commended the role played by KEPCO in supporting the UAE's strategic plans to develop a peaceful nuclear energy programme with the highest standards in safety, security, and quality.
Construction of Barakah Unit 1 will take five years, with the plant expected to become operational in 2017, subject to further regulatory review.
Barakah, located in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, was selected as the preferred site for the plant following a comprehensive analysis of multiple locations across the UAE.
One of the most important factors in the selection of Barakah was the fact that it is in an area with a very low probability of earthquakes.
Studies have shown that the site area has been tectonically inactive for nearly 100 million years.
With four plants online by 2020, nuclear energy is predicted to save the UAE up to 12 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
Korea Electric Power Corp, the country’s biggest electricity producer, won a contract in 2009 to complete four nuclear reactors in the UAE.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.