Home / COMMENT / How FM companies are preparing for the UAE's nuclear age

How FM companies are preparing for the UAE's nuclear age

by CW Guest Columnist on Oct 11, 2017

Jamal Abdulla Lootah is the group chief executive officer of Imdaad.
Jamal Abdulla Lootah is the group chief executive officer of Imdaad.

RELATED ARTICLES: UAE's Barakah nuclear power plant gets final reactor vessel | Site visit: Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, UAE | ENEC addresses skills gap to improve safety at Barakah plant

The UAE is determined to meet its ever-growing energy needs through clean and sustainable forms of energy.

And few projects can demonstrate this commitment like Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the first nuclear power plant in the country that is currently underway in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi.

Once, as planned, each of the four reactors is fully operational by the year 2020, the nuclear facility will produce up to 5,600mW of energy and complement the country’s existing basket of energies, which at the moment comprises natural gas, solar, and other renewables.

The facility will put the UAE on the global map, accentuating the nation’s relentless drive to diversify its energy resources and heed environmental needs while generating clean fuel.

In a short span of time, the UAE has come a long way in emerging out of a desert past to build a world-class modern platform where grand minds and visionary companies test the horizons of possibilities.

And, as more and more individuals and entities continue to call the UAE their home, the country has to devise reliable and sustainable methods to service soaring demands of electricity and energy.

The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is part of this ambitious plan to meet unrelenting energy demands, while at the same time honoring its commitment to the environment and the globe at large.

With the state-of-the-art facility set to check all the boxes laid out by external regulatory agencies, the massive nuclear project will also benefit from a ‘smart,’ data-driven, and well-integrated facilities management (FM) program that supports its ambitious drive to produce clean energy with minimal operational obstacles.

The facility is designed to run uninterrupted on an 18-month fuel cycle and become a robust source of base-load electricity.

This further underscores the significance of predictive maintenance capabilities and real-time monitoring of reactors using modern and reliable computing platforms.

As the nuclear facility lights up the UAE, it will also necessitate astute management of the building’s own energy status, especially considering the complex and highly reactive nature of nuclear fuel. These nuances reverberate with Imdaad, especially as we developed ‘Imtedaad,’ an award-winning intelligent platform that yields energy preservation results and smart solutions.

The integrated approach adopted by Imtedaad streamlines existing workflow and adds ‘intelligence’ to FM delivery and operations at large facilities, and it takes little imagination to deduce that a successful FM plan will be critical to the long-term success, cost-efficiency, and reliability of a large-scale project like the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, which will also contribute towards developing competencies and ramping up the know-how within the FM industry.

Another important arena that will be ripe for exploration is ‘nuclear decommissioning.’ As each of the reactors at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has an operational lifespan of 60 years, the decommissioning process will particularly be part of the facility’s strategy right at the outset. An Integrated Decommissioning Information Management System (IDIMS), a tool that we at Imdaad have thoroughly studied, can be a viable option to ensure safety during the dismantling and decommissioning process.

As a function of facilities management, IDIMS — supported by recorded data about planning, licensing, radioactive waste management and storage, amongst others — can help engineers oversee the successful implementation of the project throughout the lifespan.