DUBAI – The United Arab Emirates’ independent nuclear regulator announced on Monday it has issued an operating license for the first reactor of the country’s nuclear power plant.
The move makes the UAE the first Arab country to generate electricity from nuclear energy.
The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) granted the plant’s operator Nawah Energy Company a 60-year operating license for the first reactor, state-run WAM news agency said.
“Today marks a new chapter in our journey for the development of peaceful nuclear energy with the issuing of the operating license for the first Barakah plant,” UAE’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed posted on Twitter.
“As we prepare for the next 50 years to safeguard our needs, our biggest strength is national talent,” he added.
FANR applied for the license in 2015 and received it after a systematic review process that included “a thorough assessment of the application documentation,” according to WAM.
FANR has done an assessment, including reviewing the plant’s layout design and analysis of the site’s location in terms of geography and demography.
It also reviewed the reactor design, cooling systems, security arrangements, emergency preparedness, radioactive waste management and other technical aspects.
“Today’s announcement is another milestone for the UAE,” the International Atomic Energy Agency’s permanent representative for the UAE said.
This “culminated efforts of 12 years towards the development of the UAE Nuclear Energy Program to which FANR played a significant role to turn this vision into reality,” he added.
Barakah nuclear plant is located in Abu Dhabi’s al-Dhafra region and is planned to operate with four reactors.
When the plant is fully operational, Nawah Energy Company expects it to generate up to 5.6 gigawatts of energy.
The country is trying to diversify its energy sources, focus on clean energy and reduce dependence on oil and gas.
The UAE generates most of its electricity (110 billion kilowatt-hours in 2013) using natural gas and is planning to reduce the share of power generation from gas from 98 percent in 2012 to 76 percent in 2021, according to official data.