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Thu 7 May 2020 02:15 PM

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UAE's Barakah-1 nuclear reactor ready to start operating in 'a month or so'

Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation said site has not been impacted by Covid-19

UAE's Barakah-1 nuclear reactor ready to start operating in 'a month or so'

Hammadi revealed that over 600 people are working on the project and testing has begun at units 2, 3 and 4 which, combined, will meet a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs.

The Arab world’s first commercial nuclear plant should start operating “in a couple of weeks or a month or so from now”, according to Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.

During a webcast event held by the Atlantic Council, Hammadi revealed that fuel loading at the recently constructed 1,400-MW Barakah-1 nuclear reactor started on February 19 and was completed on March 3.

He said: “We are in advanced stages of starting Unit 1.”

Despite the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Hammadi revealed that over 600 people are working on the project and testing has begun at units 2, 3 and 4 which, combined, will meet a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs.

He explained: “We stopped all non-essential work at Barakah. Priority number one is to keep people safe and keep coronavirus out of Barakah. We learned from the Koreans. We don’t have a single positive case at the construction site.”

Hammadi told the webcast that, despite an 'optimistic' belief that the virus will persist for up to another 18 months, he does not envisage any supply chain issues, with all the necessary equipment currently at the respective sites.

“The good thing with four units is we have redundancies in equipment if we needed to make sure the first unit is operational," he added.

The UAE's energy mix includes nuclear, renewables and gas. "We will continue using gas for the time being, and we are looking [into] hydrogen," he said. The country has installed 80 percent of renewables and 5.6GW of nuclear plants.

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