The UAE has announced that the first reactor of its under-construction Barakah nuclear power plant is scheduled to come online within “a few months”. The country’s first nuclear plant could address a key energy need in the region, but questions remain as to its usefulness and safety in a geopolitically tense environment. The UAE is making a serious push to expand its nuclear capabilities. The Gulf state is aiming to source half of its power from clean sources by 2050, and includes a target of 6% from nuclear in this figure. While the country is also targeting a number of operational and efficiency improvements, aiming to improve energy consumption efficiency by 40% and reduce the carbon cost of domestically generated electricity by 70%, the Barakah plant is the lynchpin holding the project together. But behind these grand claims, the project has been dogged by controversy. From macro problems, such as the inherent dangers of building a nuclear reactor in a geopolitically tense region, to specific weaknesses with Barakah, such as the cracking of the cement used to build the facility itself, the project has no shortage of critics. With the UAE eager to continue with the project, its completion appears a matter of when, not if, opening up a series of lessons to learn ahead of new nuclear construction.
Power Technology 17th April 2020 read more »