Unit 1 of the UAE's Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant (NEP) has been completed, marking a significant milestone in the development of the megaproject.

The project is now completing its operational readiness operations, which are required to obtain the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation's (FANR) Operating License approval. 

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), and its prime contractor and joint venture (JV) partner, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), worked on the project in adherence to FANR regulations. 

Unit 1's construction was completed in 69 months, with KEPCO appointed by ENEC to lead the prime contract of Barakah NEP's construction in 2009. 

Project construction began in 2012, and Units 2, 3, and 4 of the development are respectively 92%, 81%, and 66% complete.

The project has achieved an overall completion rate of 86%.

READ: UAE's $20bn Barakah NEP reports construction progress

HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, visited the Barakah NEP project in Al Dhafra Region to celebrate Unit 1's completion.

Commenting on the milestone, HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, said: "This is a historic moment in our nation’s development as we celebrate the construction completion of Unit 1 of the Barakah [NEP].

"The UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme will play a strategic role in the growth of our nation by enhancing our energy security, diversifying our economy, and creating employment opportunities for our people, thereby helping secure the future of generations to come."

HH Sheikh Mohamed also commended the role of Emirati professionals in the project's development, adding: "Today is a historic day for the energy sector of the UAE, as we continue to make progress on one of our nation’s most significant projects." 

READ: Unit 1 of UAE's Barakah power plant nears completion

Employees from its ENEC and KEPCO's jointly owned operating and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, were also present at the ceremony. 

Barakah Unit 1 has already completed numerous individual and combined system tests, including the cold hydrostatic test and the hot functional test, as part of the first phase of its initial testing programme (ITP).

The ITP aims to ensure that the unit’s systems operate in accordance with the highest industry standards and will continue to do so during the operation of the plant over the coming decades.

In tandem with the ITP being conducted at the Barakah Plant, ENEC, KEPCO, and Nawah are conducting a comprehensive review programme in preparation for operations to ensure that the people who will operate and maintain the plant also meet the highest standards of competence and readiness.

As per the UAE Nuclear Law, the construction and operation of nuclear energy plants is subject to regulation by FANR, the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator.

Once Nawah staff has confirmed that the plant, its employees, and related programmes, processes, and procedures are ready, they will seek FANR approval to begin the loading of nuclear fuel assemblies, and the start-up of Unit 1.

SITE VISIT: Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, UAE

FANR is also carrying out detailed inspections and reviews in the run up to issuing Operating Licenses for Units 1 and 2. 

In addition to FANR’s extensive review process, and in line with the commitment made by the UAE in 2008 to adhere to the highest standards of safety and operational transparency, Unit 1 and its operating team are going through assessments by the independent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).

VIDEO: Tour of UAE’s Barakah NEP construction site

These all-inclusive assessments will review the physical infrastructure of the reactor, as well as the competency and expertise of the reactor’s operating team and administrative staff.

ENEC is managing the construction of Barakah Units 2, 3, and 4, which are said to benefit from the experience and lessons learned during the construction of Unit 1.

Barakah NEP is the largest nuclear energy new build project in the world, with four APR-1400 units under simultaneous construction.