Construction milestone for UAE's Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant

Concrete works and heavy equipment lifting have been completed for all four project units

A historic construction milestone has been achieved on the UAE's Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi [image: Enec].
A historic construction milestone has been achieved on the UAE's Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi [image: Enec].

Major construction progress has been achieved at the UAE’s Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the high-profile development under way in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. Developer Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) said the completion of all concrete works and heavy equipment lifting for Barakah’s four nuclear reactor units is “a historic milestone” for the Arab world’s first nuclear energy plant. 

A ceremony was held last week by senior officials and employees from Enec, who were joined by prime contractor and joint venture partner, Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco). Subsidiaries Nawah Energy Company and Barakah One Company also attended the ceremony. 

SITE VISIT: Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, UAE

Construction work began on the project in July 2012, and all four units of Barakah have achieved more 90% construction progress. The units are being developed simultaneously, with Unit 1 completed earlier this year. At the end of September 2018, Units 2, 3, and 4 respectively reported construction completion in excess of 94%, 86%, and 77%. Upon completion, the four units will generate clean and efficient energy for the UAE grid, preventing the release of more than 19 million tonnes (t) of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

More than 2.3 million cubic metres of concrete has been poured for the project, with 226,796t (250,000 metric tons) of reinforcing steel used by construction crews. The latter figure is “an international construction performance record”, according to a statement shared by Enec earlier this month. 

The “last major structural concrete pour” made at Barakah’s site was for the fuel handling area roof of Unit 4, the final unit of the nuclear energy project. 

Other milestones recently “completed safely and successfully” for the scheme, according to Enec, include cold hydrostatic testing and hot functional testing for Unit 2; “the completion of Unit 4’s reactor containment building dome and reactor coolant loop pipe welding; and the completion of all major construction work on Unit 3’s turbine generator and reactor pressure vessel internals”.

READ: Unit 2 of UAE's Barakah Nuclear Plant passes heat testing

Commenting on the project’s progress, Enec chief executive officer, Eng Mohamed Al Hammadi, said: “These achievements highlight the significant progress being made at the Barakah plant and mark the beginning of the end of construction activities as the final units of the plant transition to the testing and commissioning phase. 

“We are proud to have maintained our track record of safety and efficiency throughout the construction of all four units, and have established Barakah as the benchmark for new nuclear construction projects worldwide. These milestones are the result of the exceptional partnership between Enec and […Kepco], with the dedication and expertise of our UAE nationals and international experts.”

READ: Unit 1 of UAE's Barakah nuclear plant to begin ops by early-2020

Emirati nationals and companies have played an instrumental role in the development of Barakah, as Enec has revealed in 2018. As revealed by operator Nawah Energy Company this October, more than 1,500 local companies have won Barakah-related contracts valued at $3.8bn (AED14bn) to date. Among the firms in this list are Emirates Steel, National Cement, Dubai Cable Company, National Marine Dredging Company, Western Bainoona Group, and Hilalco. 

These details were revealed a month after Enec’s chief engineering and construction officer, Eng Ali Al Hammadi, highlighted the role of Emirati nationals in Barakah’s development. 

In an exclusive article shared with Construction Week by Enec, Ali Al Hammadi said: “The success of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program can be primarily attributed to the steadfast support from the nation’s leadership and international partners. 

“With the promotion of a healthy nuclear safety culture, together with Enec’s culture of excellence and prioritisation of quality, UAE nationals have the right foundations as they enter the nuclear industry.”

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