(Bloomberg) –The Arab world’s first commercial nuclear plant should start operating in the first quarter of 2020, Abu Dhabi government-owned newspaper Al-Ittihad reported, citing the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp.
Barakah Unit 1, the first of four planned reactors in the United Arab Emirates, is currently in a testing phase and is on track to receive an operating license from regulators, the paper said. The plant will then start loading nuclear fuel, begin generating power, and ramp up to full commercial operation within several months, Al-Ittihad said. State-run ENEC is also preparing to start tests on its second reactor, according to the report.
Calls by Bloomberg seeking comment from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation went unanswered on Tuesday.
Abu Dhabi, capital and largest emirate of the U.A.E., holds about 6% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves and depends mainly on oil revenue for growth. Like other governments in the Persian Gulf region, it’s seeking to diversify its energy supplies and develop alternative sources of income.
Korea Electric Power Corp. and ENEC are joint-venture partners. Their Nawah Energy Co. is responsible for operating and maintaining the Barakah complex, where construction began in 2012. Once completed, the plants are estimated to be able to produce a combined 5,600 megawatts of power. Other Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt have also announced nuclear projects to provide power to their growing populations and industries.