The UAE’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday granted approval for the construction of the GCC’s first nuclear energy plant.
The licence, granted by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), paves the way for a consortium of South Korean companies to build the multi-billion dollar project, design to meet the growing demand for power in the Gulf state.
Korea Electric Power Corp, the country’s biggest electricity producer, won a contract in 2009 to complete four nuclear reactors in the UAE but the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC) has been waiting for the license before starting the construction of two reactors in Barakah.
The two-Korean designed reactors are each capable of producing 1,400 megawatts of electricity, and are expected to be running by 2017. It does not allow ENEC to operate them. ENEC must apply to FANR for a separate operating licence.
The UAE, the world’s third largest oil exporter, has continued to plough ahead with its atomic programme even as other countries halt their plans after last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused radioactive material to be released from its Fukushima plant.
FANR said its project would avoid mistakes made in Japan. “We have tried to learn as many lessons as we could from Fukushima, and we asked ENEC to address the issue in a report, which they did,” said William Travers, director general of the FANR.
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