Enec achieves key UAE nuclear plant construction milestone
8 May 2017
Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) has announced that it has, together with Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), completed initial construction activities for Unit I of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant and the turnover of all plant systems to Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) for testing and commissioning, in preparation for safety-led nuclear operations.
The completion of initial construction work of Unit I was preceded by the successful completion of the Hot Functional Test (HFT) at the end of 2016, said a statement from Enec.
The HFT is one of the major testing requirements under the Construction License for Units 1 and 2, which was granted by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) in 2012.
Enec signed the prime contract with Kepco in 2009 for the construction of the Barakah Plant. The handover of Unit I’s 277 systems from Kepco to its unit KHNP for commissioning marks the end of initial construction activities of Unit I and the start of the preparatory phase for nuclear operations.
The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is the largest single nuclear energy new build project in the world, with four APR-1400 units under simultaneous construction.
Construction of Unit I began in 2012 and at full operational capacity, the four units will deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs from carbon-free nuclear energy.
According to Enec, the project as a whole is now 79 per cent complete, with Unit I being 95 per cent complete.
Commenting on the achievement, Enec CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi, said: "The completion of Unit I's construction activities and the handover of all systems for commissioning are important milestones in a project that is critical to the future energy mix of the UAE, and they reflect the professionalism and dedication of everyone involved in the project."
Following the satisfactory completion of commissioning activities by KHNP, Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), a joint venture between Enec and Kepco established to operate Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant Units 1 to 4, will assume operational responsibilities for Unit 1.
However, as per UAE regulatory law, the construction, start-up and operations of nuclear energy plants are subject to regulations issued by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), and the loading of fuel and actual operation of Unit I will require the approval of FANR and the issuance of an operating licence.
According to him, FANR is conducting a rigorous and stringent review of the operating licence application, which was submitted by Enec in March 2015, and carrying out numerous inspections of construction and operational readiness to support this review.
In addition to the extensive review by FANR, senior nuclear experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) will also conduct a series of voluntary, but independent assessments of the robustness of the operating infrastructure and the proficiency of the operations personnel that will ultimately bring Unit 1 into full commercial operation.
Only after the successful conclusion of these legally-mandated and voluntary reviews, and upon FANR approval of the Operating Licence for Unit 1, will Nawah proceed with Unit I fuel load and plant start-up.
Mohammed Sahoo AlSuwaidi, the acting CEO of Nawah, said it is currently working with the IAEA and WANO on the approach and timetable for their operational readiness assessments at Barakah later this year.
"These assessments will take place before we anticipate being granted our Operating License by FANR and begin the process of loading fuel assemblies into the reactor. The entire Nawah team is fully aligned around the objective of safe, reliable, and efficient operation of the first nuclear energy plant in the UAE, he added.
Enec also announced the approval by its board of a timeline update for the start-up of Unit 1, driven by a desire to achieve the highest possible nuclear quality and safety standards.
The approval follows a series of assessments by Enec, Nawah and international experts, as well as lessons learned from Shin Kori Unit 3 in South Korea, the reference plant for Barakah.
The timeline includes an extension for the start-up of nuclear operations for Unit 1, from 2017 to 2018, to ensure sufficient time for international assessments and adherence to nuclear industry safety standards, as well as a reinforcement of operational proficiency for plant personnel.