UAE Project Receives $2 Billion Boost from U.S. Ex-Im Bank

By Brian Wheeler, Editor

Regulators in the UAE approved construction of the plant July 17. All photos courtesy of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corportation.

Regulators in the UAE approved construction of the plant July 17. All photos courtesy of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corportation.

In September, the board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) authorized a $2 billion loan to the Barakah One Company of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to underwrite the export of American equipment and service-expertise for the construction of the first nuclear power plant in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, UAE. Barakah One Company, a subsidiary of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. (ENEC), plans to erect four nuclear power units at the Barakah site in the Western Region of the Abu Dhabi Emirate. The reactors, supplied by the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) and based on the APR 1400 design, will come online at one-year intervals beginning in 2017 and will have a total capacity of 5,600 MW.

“This is a very important milestone to meet our objective of announcing a financial agreement in the near term,” said Mohamed Al Hammadi, chief executive officer of ENEC.

The Barakah plant
The Barakah plant is expected to begin generating electricity in 2017.

As reported in the July issue of Nuclear Power International magazine, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) of the United Arab Emirates on July 17 approved ENEC’s license for the construction of Units 1 and 2 of the Barakah Nuclear Facility and related regulated activities. The license authorizes ENEC to construct two 1,400 MW APR1400 pressurized water reactors at site. The license does not allow ENEC to operate the reactors and ENEC must apply to FANR for a separate operating license.

“The issuance of a construction license is a significant milestone in the UAE’s nuclear energy program,” said H.E. Dr. Ahmed Al Mazrouei, chairman of the FANR Board of Management.

The FANR review of ENEC’s application was carried out by more than 200 technical experts and has been on-going since December 2010. The license also incorporated an additional assessment by ENEC of the lessons learned from the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

Al Hammadi said the FANR’s rigorous review and approval underscored the comprehensive planning and analysis that led to the selection of the site, the technology and the development of ENEC’s safety and security infrastructure.

“This approval confirms that we are building a world-class nuclear energy program for the UAE and remain committed to the highest standards of safety and quality,” said Al Hammadi.

first concrete
Pouring of first concrete took place July 18.

ENEC officially started construction July 18 by pouring the first nuclear safety concrete for Barakah Unit 1. More than 1,500 cubic meters of concrete was poured to form a portion of the foundation slab of the Barakah Unit 1 containment building. The next phase of construction will include the continued pouring of concrete for the containment building, auxiliary building, turbine building and cooling water structures.

Construction of Barakah Unit 1 will take five years, with the plant expected to become operational in 2017, subject to further regulatory review. ENEC will apply for an Operating License for Unit 1 in 2015 and will pour concrete for Unit 2 in 2013.

Areva Inc., through an agreement with ENEC, will supply future nuclear power plants at Barakah with enriched uranium for eight years, a contract that is worth more than 400 million euros ($492.8 million).

Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based group company of Toshiba Corp., is the largest U.S. exporter involved in the transaction and will provide the reactor coolant pumps, reactor components, controls, engineering services, and training.

According to estimates derived from U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the line of credit will support approximately 5,000 American jobs across 17 states, the Ex-Im Bank said in a press release.

According to International Atomic Energy Agency data, the UAE is the first “newcomer” country in 31 years to authorize the construction of its first nuclear power plant since China did so in 1981.

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