ENEC Begins Construction Of UAE’s First Nuclear Energy Plant


Safety concrete poured for Barakah Unit 1 following receipt of Construction License from UAE Regulator

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) officially commenced the construction of the UAE’s first nuclear energy plant yesterday, by pouring the first nuclear safety concrete for Barakah Unit 1. This significant milestone for the UAE’s peaceful civil nuclear energy program follows the receipt of the Construction License from the Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation (FANR) and a No Objection Certificate from Abu Dhabi’s environmental regulator, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).

The safety concrete was poured at Barakah yesterday afternoon in front of a gathering including ENEC’s senior management and site team, and ENEC’s Prime Contractor, the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). ENEC poured more than 1500 cubic meters of concrete to form a portion of the foundation slab of the Barakah Unit 1 Reactor Containment Building, which will ultimately house the nuclear reactor. Containment Buildings are amongst the safest and most secure structures in the world due to the thickness of their walls, the amount of reinforcing steel used, and an interior steel liner plate used in the structure.

In preparation for the safety concrete pouring, ENEC had carried out a number of activities on site under its Limited Construction License. Excavation for Units 1 & 2, dredging for the intake and outfall channels, construction of the marine breakwaters, wharf construction, excavation and construction of the Cooling Water Ducts and foundations for the safety related concrete were prepared.

This included the installation of cathodic protection, layers of lean leveling concrete with waterproofing, structural rebar, embedment’s, piping, conduit, grounding cable and sump liners. The next phase of construction will include the continued pouring of concrete for the reactor containment building, auxiliary building, turbine building and cooling water structures. Reactor Building Containment Liner Plate onsite fabrication and installation using heavy lift crane will also have started by the end of 2012.

Construction of Barakah Unit 1 will take five years, with the plant expected to become operational in 2017 (subject to further regulatory review).

“This has been a momentous week for the UAE’s peaceful civil nuclear energy program, said Mohamed Al Hammadi, ENEC CEO. “We have received approval from our regulators on the extensive safety analysis led to the selection of our selected site, Barakah, and our chosen technology, the APR 1400, and today we commence the construction of the UAE’s first nuclear energy plant.”

“As we begin construction of Barakah Unit 1, we reaffirm our commitment to maintaining the UAE’s reputation for developing a world-class program and ensuring that our work at site conforms with local, federal and international regulations” said Mr Al Hammadi. “We will continue to build on our strong safety culture, and our high security and quality standards by working with the global nuclear industry, sharing knowledge and best practices.”

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. The analysis included seismic history, security, distance from large population centers, proximity to large supplies of water, and environmental considerations.

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 – what is called ‘low seismicity’. Studies have shown that the site area has been tectonically inactive for nearly 100 million years. The Arabian Gulf is also not an area with a history of tsunami activity.

ENEC has selected KEPCO’s APR1400, a Generation III, 1400 Megawatt nuclear energy plant - proven technology that meets the highest international standards for safety and performance. The plants are designed to withstand extreme events including tsunami, earthquake and station black-out.

ENEC will apply for an Operating License for Unit 1 in 2015 and will pour concrete for Unit 2 in 2013.

ENEC is building a total of four Units at the Barakah site. The first Unit will be operational in 2017, with one additional Unit becoming operational each year up to 2020.

As well as diversifying the nation’s energy supply, with four plants online by 2020, nuclear energy will save the UAE up to 12 million tons of CO2 emissions each year.

The receipt of the Construction License from FANR on Tuesday was the culmination of a four-year process that began in 2008 with early studies into site selection. ENEC submitted its Construction License Application (CLA) for Barakah Units 1 and 2 to FANR on December 27, 2010. The 9,000-page CLA included, among other issues, site selection, technology, safety and quality control, and the construction process for Units 1 & 2. Throughout the 18-month review process, ENEC received and responded to more than 1800 requests for information from FANR.