The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant project – the first nuclear energy power station to be constructed in the Middle East – is up to 81 per cent complete, officials said on Monday.
The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation is developing the plant through the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme. The Barakah plant has four identical reactors housed in four separate units. Once completed in 2020, it will provide up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs with nuclear energy.
The plant has a total generating capacity of up to 5,600MW.
“Unit 1 is now 95 per cent complete, Unit 2 is 84 per cent complete, Unit 3 is 74 per cent complete and Unit 4 is 51 per cent complete. The project as a whole, units 1-4 and the associated buildings is 81 per cent complete,” ENEC engineering director Hank Berry said.
“One single pellet of uranium contains enough energy to power a household round the clock for four months. One single pellet is equivalent to 481 cubic metres of natural gas or 471 litres of oil or one ton of coal,” Berry added.
Each unit of the plant has over 21 million fuel pellets. Once loaded with fuel, a nuclear reactor can produce electricity for up to 18 months with 90 per cent capacity.
ENEC and its subsidiary company Nawah employ more than 1,900 people. More than 60 per cent of them are locals and over 20 per cent female.
“Emirati women are 20 per cent of nuclear energy industry workforce. This is the highest for any nuclear industry in the world,” Maryam Qasem, head of Nuclear Fuel Fabrication Procurement at ENEC, said.
By 2020, around 2,500 professionals will be needed to ensure the success of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme and operate the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant. ENEC and Nawah, thus, also aim to develop the next generation of nuclear energy leaders.
The project’s Energy Pioneers programme presents graduates and professionals with an opportunity to become pioneers in the nuclear energy sector. Now, there are 217 ENEC-sponsored students studying in the UAE and abroad, 226 Energy Pioneers have already graduated and 63 women studying through ENEC and Nawah scholarships for Bachelor of Engineering and Higher Diploma in Nuclear Technology.
The local companies too are benefitting from the Barakah plant project.
“More than 1,400 local companies are involved in Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant project, with contracts totaling more than $3 billion,” an official said. The companies include DESCON Engineering, Bin Asheer, National Marine Dredging Company, the Western Bainoona Group, Emirates Steel and Dubai Cable Company Limited.
The Barakah plant will not only provide a new and abundant source of low-carbon electricity but also diversify the nation’s energy supply, support energy security and help to power the future growth and prosperity of the UAE.