The United Arab Emirates have just become the first Arab nation to operate a nuclear plant as its 5.6GW Barakah nuclear plant achieved criticality on its Unit 1 in the first week of August. The pressurized water reactor has received its operating license this February and has been in a test regime throughout the past 6 months, placating regional fears that the Arab Peninsula’s first nuclear plant might experience some difficulty in operation. The Barakah nuclear plant’s Unit 2 is expected to be fully ready by the winter season of 2020/2021, whilst Units 3 and 4 are nearing completion (construction works are 90% done), suggesting that the pioneering UAE reactor might become a steady part of the country’s energy matrix in the upcoming 1-2 years. The underlying question, however, is the cost thereof – was nuclear power a necessity for the Emirati economy?
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