On March 9, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, issued the Operating License for Unit 2 of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant to Nawah Energy Company. Nawah is the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s (ENEC) subsidiary, which is responsible for the operation of the nuclear power plant.
The Operating License has an estimated duration of 60 years, and authorises Nawah to commission and operate Unit 2 of the Barakah Plant, located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi.
The Operating License was issued after FANR received the Operating License Application from ENEC, on behalf of Nawah, in 2015 for Units 1 and 2. FANR followed a systematic review process that included a assessing the application documentation thoroughly and conducting robust regulatory oversight and inspections.
For the assessment, a review of the plant’s layout design and analysis of the site’s location in terms of geography and demography was done. The assessment also included the reactor design, cooling systems, security arrangements, emergency preparedness, radioactive waste management and other technical aspects. Nawah’s organisational and manpower readiness with all the required processes and procedures to ensure the safety and security of nuclear power plant was also done by FANR.
FANR reviewed the 14,000 page Operating License Application for Units 1 & 2, conducted more than 220 inspections and requested approximately 59 additional pieces of information for Unit 2 on various matters related to reactor design, safety and other issues. This was done to ensure the Barakah Plant complied fully with all regulatory requirements.
“This is another historic moment for the UAE, being the first Arab country in the region to operate a nuclear power plant and culminating efforts of 13 years in building such a programme,” said Ambassador Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE’s Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Deputy Chairman at FANR. “The decision announced today follows many years of intensive work and collaboration with national and international stakeholders such as International Atomic Energy Agency, Republic of Korea and other international regulatory bodies.”
Following the issuance of the Operating License for Unit 2, Nawah will undertake a period of commissioning to prepare for the commercial operation. FANR’s resident inspectors will conduct round-the-clock inspections at Barakah Plant while other inspectors will ensure Fuel Load and Power Accession processes are completed according to regulatory requirements.
The UAE is currently building four units at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, and the project’s overall construction rate is 95 percent. While Unit 1 is operational, Unit 2 is completed, Unit 3 is 94 percent and Unit 4 is 88 percent complete.
In February 2020, FANR issued the operating license for the Unit 1 of Barakah Nuclear Power Plant. It is expected that Unit 1 will start commercial operation in the first quarter of 2021.