x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Installation of nuclear reactor structure begins

Engineers have made a concrete start to the structure that will house Abu Dhabi's first nuclear reactor.

Engineers have begun a year-long process to install the 2,000-tonne steel structure that will house the Emirates' first nuclear reactor.

At the construction site in Baraka, a coastal outpost on the way from Abu Dhabi to Doha, a special crane designed to lift heavy weights has been brought in to move the 19 massive rings, each 45 metres wide, 3 metres tall, and so heavy they take two hours to be swung into place.

Once stacked and covered with concrete, they will form the grey silo that will be the most civilians will see of the reactor.

"As we continue to make steady progress on construction, we remain firmly committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety, security and quality in everything we do," said Mohamed Al Hammadi, the chief executive of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), the government company building the plant. "This installation was a challenging and complicated operation."

The first of the four planned reactors, which altogether have a price tag of US$20 billion (Dh73.46bn), is set to come online in four years. Once all the reactors are brought online, they are expected to meet a quarter of Abu Dhabi power demand.

The steel structures being welded and assembled at Baraka are known in the industry as the containment liner plate, and they form a critical barrier in the case of a radiation leak. Assembly began two months ago and is expected to continue for another 10 months.

Enec recently applied to the UAE's independent nuclear regulator for a licence to build the third and fourth reactors. In July, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation approved plans to build the first two reactors at Baraka, the first construction licence for a new nuclear programme awarded in nearly three decades.