UAE’s Barakah nuclear plant marks world first in construction

Abu Dhabi energy plant reaches milestone of having four identical reactors being built simultaneously on one site

PHOTO: ENEC currently has 18,000 people on-site at the Barakah nuclear plant, located in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. Credit: WAM

The UAE’s Barakah nuclear plant has achieved a world first for having four identical reactors being built simultaneously on one site, officials say.

The milestone was achieved following the start of the nuclear-related construction work on the fourth reactor. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) says it currently has 18,000 people on-site at the plant, located in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, about 50 kilometers west of Ruwais.

The construction licenses for the third and fourth units were approved last September by the Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation.

With construction of the four reactors now underway, the Barakah plant surpasses sites in countries like China, the US and UK to become “the largest project with simultaneous construction of identical nuclear technology in the world,” state news agency WAM reported.

Preparation works for the fourth reactor were carried out over the last seven months. Construction of the reactor containment building (RCB) will be completed over the next 36 months, with the reactor on track to start operating in 2020, following the completion of the first three reactors.

In terms of construction progress, the first reactor is 75% complete, Unit 2 is 53% complete, and Units 3 and 4 are 27% complete as of August this year, ENEC said in a separate statement.

To date, 13 key project contract milestones have been delivered safely and on time, and the next major milestone will be the first fuel load for Unit 1 in 2016.

By 2020, the project is expected to provide up to a quarter of the nation’s electricity needs, saving up to 12 million tons of carbon emissions every year. The first unit is scheduled for completion in 2017, with additional units following at 12-month intervals.

To date, more than 1.4 million cubic yards of concrete have been used in the construction of Barakah Units 1 to 4. This is approximately half of the total concrete that will be used on these structures once the program is complete, and is already three times the total volume of concrete used in the Burj Khalifa, ENEC said. Over 250,000 tons of reinforcing steel have also been utilised in the construction process, and the project has recorded approximately 63 million man-hours so far.


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