The first nuclear power-generating facility on the Arabian Peninsula is under construction in the emirate of Abu Dhabi near the Saudi Arabia border. Upon completion, it will be one of the largest nuclear power-generating plants in the world. The four reactor units will yield an aggregate capacity of 5,600 megawatts and begin to come online at one-year intervals beginning in 2017, supplying 25% of Abu Dhabi’s power needs by 2020.
In order to receive international support, Abu Dhabi had to pass a federal law promising not to enrich uranium or reprocess the waste. It is the only country to ever place those restrictions into federal legislation.
Funding, technology, components, nuclear fuel and construction services are a collaboration of several international companies. The Export-Import Bank of the U.S. has granted a $2 billion loan to underwrite the export of American equipment, engineering services and training. Westinghouse Electric Co. will be the largest U.S. exporter. Initial agreements have been signed paving the way for nuclear fuel supply contracts worth $3 billion with companies in the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, Australia and Canada. Korean Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) is the main construction contractor. KEPCO will run and maintain the plant upon completion.
With electrical usage in the UAE rising at an annual rate of 9%, or three times the global average, the country has no choice but to invest in the power infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of the UAE’s burgeoning population. Abu Dhabi is already investing heavily in carbon-free, power-generating projects – particularly solar.