The UAE has received the green light to produce peaceful nuclear energy, the first Arab country to do so, with the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 receiving its operating license from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).
A major milestone for the UAE Nuclear Energy Programme, Unit 1, once operational, will be able to produce clean electricity to cover 6 percent of the UAE's energy demand. Once all four units are operational, together they can cater to 25 per cent of the electricity needs of the country.
"Today marks a new chapter in our journey for the development of peaceful nuclear energy”, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces said in his tweet.
The FANR, which is the UAE's independent nuclear regulator, granted the license to the Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation's (ENEC) subsidiary responsible for operation of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the Al Dhafra region.
The issuance of the operating license was hailed as a historic moment for the UAE, enabling it to enhance energy security and diversify its energy sources. This is in line with the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 to move away from a solely oil-based economy.
A culmination of more than 12 years of effort in the development of the UAE Nuclear Energy Programme with collaboration from national and international regulatory bodies, this will be the first nuclear reactor plant in the Arab world.
The Barakah plant meets all safety requirements and uses third generation advanced technologies to ensure safety and security. After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan in 2011, changes were made to the design of the Barakah plant to further enhance safety and enable it to withstand the high temperature in the UAE as well as very high seismic events.
The Barakah plant Unit 1 will produce 1,400MW of electricity to cover over six per cent of the UAE's energy needs, the tariff for which will be decided by the Ministry of Energy.
Overall the four units will supply a total of 5,600MW thus preventing the release of 21 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars off the roads - close to the total number of vehicles registered in the UAE - annually.
The strategy for nuclear waste management has also been put in place by the FANR, which includes dry storage, underground space and standby funds to provision the decommission of the Barakah plant in the future.