The UAE’s long-awaited nuclear dawn may be imminent, with the start up of the first 1.4GW reactor potentially set for early 2020. Nuclear regulator FANR is looking to issue an operating license for the first of four reactors in a 5.6GW nuclear power plant nearing completion at Barakah, 50km west of Ruwais on Abu Dhabi’s gulf coast. FANR director-general Christer Viktorsson told Reuters on the sidelines of a public forum organized by state nuclear firm Enec on 27 November that “if nothing new happens, it could be in the first quarter of next year. We are working towards that.” Enec says the Barakah-1 reactor is mechanically complete and being prepared for operation when the operating license is received from FANR.

Enec intended to bring the four 1.4GW Barakah reactors online at yearly intervals during 2017-20, but FANR will not licence Nawah operating JV of Enec and Korean contractor Kepco until key staff have enough experience of observing operations at Kepco’s first APR1400 reactor, the model deployed at Barakah. This process was delayed by a scandal over faked safety certificates in Korea’s nuclear industry (MEES, 23 November 2012). FANR has recently certified 53 plant operators, which is “well above the 32 required to operate Unit 1” (MEES, 27 September). (CONTINUED - 204 WORDS)