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Barakah / WANO Says UAE’s First Nuclear Plant Is Ready For Startup

By David Dalton
28 January 2020

Fuel loading at delayed plant now scheduled before end of April
WANO Says UAE’s First Nuclear Plant Is Ready For Startup
A file photo of the Barakah site in August 2019. Photo courtesy Enec.
An operational readiness assessment performed by the World Association of Nuclear Operators has concluded that Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear power station in Abu Dhabi is ready to start up, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) and its subsidiary Nawah Energy Company announced.

The WANO pre-startup review is a nuclear industry assessment which is conducted in line with international industry standards set by WANO, of which Enec and Nawah are both members.

During the review, which took place in November 2019, WANO teams examined numerous functional and cross-functional areas that are essential for the safe startup and operation of Barakah-1, ranging from operator performance and operations and maintenance, through to work management and emergency preparedness.

The final results of the review, which was the culmination of over 30 support missions and peer reviews by WANO, confirmed that Unit 1 is ready to start up, Enec said.

Nawah said it is preparing to load the first nuclear fuel assemblies into Unit 1 during the first quarter of 2020, once it receives an operating licence from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator.

Once the fuel assemblies are loaded, Nawah will begin the start-up sequence for power ascension testing, where operators will raise power generation levels over a number of months.

Commercial operation of Barakah-1, the UAE’s first commercial nuclear power plant, was scheduled for 2017 following the start of construction in July 2012. But in May 2017 Enec said commercial operation had been put back to 2018.

At the time Enec said the delay was to ensure sufficient time for international assessments and adherence to nuclear industry safety standards, and “as a reinforcement of operational proficiency for plant personnel”. This followed a series of assessments and lessons learned from Shin-Kori-3 in South Korea, the reference plant for Barakah.

In May 2018 Nawah Energy said the loading of nuclear fuel had been delayed “to the end of 2019 and early 2020”.

That updated schedule followed “a comprehensive operational readiness review”.

Enec is building four South Korea-supplied APR1400 plants at Barakah. The $24.4bn facility is the world’s largest nuclear project under construction and will be the first in the Arab world.

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