By Ed Attwood
Construction on first reactor to begin next year; all four plants to be operational by 2020
One year on from the award of a $20bn contract to build the first nuclear power plants in the Gulf, the UAE has filed construction licence applications for two reactors with the new nuclear regulator.
The 9,000-page applications for Braka Units 1 and 2 have been handed into the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) and document the safety case for both the plants and the proposed site in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region.
Based largely on the safety analysis done for two units in South Korea – on which the Braka reactors are modelled – the applications represent the latest move in the UAE’s aim of achieving nuclear power by 2017.
By replicating as far as possible the design of the Korean reactors, this ensures the technology used in the Braka plants will have already undergone a licensing process before being inspected by FANR.
There will be slight changes to the plant design to reflect the UAE’s climatic conditions and the specific requirements of FANR.
The ‘reference plant’ plan has allowed KEPCO, the head of the South Korean consortium that won the contract last December, and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) to finish the construction licence application relatively quickly.
“Today’s filing is another important step forward for the ENEC program,” said ENEC CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi.
“We believe this license application demonstrates that the technology for our proposed power plant is safe, that the plant can be built to the highest possible standards, and that the proposed site is appropriate for the power plant. We look forward to responding to FANR as its team reviews the application and the licensing process continues.”
Construction work on the first reactor is scheduled to start next year. On Sunday, the Korea Times reported a KEPCO official as stating that construction of the Braka site’s harbours, breakwaters and waterways would be completed in 2011, along with labour accommodation for 10,000 workers.
ENEC is planning to have all four Braka reactors up and running by 2020.
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