The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission has just returned from inspecting the world’s newest nuclear power plant development comprising four major reactors.

The project is the first nuclear power plant to be built in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is expected to be complete and producing power within 10 years – significantly faster than the time expected under internationally accepted guidelines and recent experiences.

It was for this reason two senior staff visited the UAE this week to inspect the building site and meet with officials from the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).

The site currently employs 17,000 staff, with the first reactor due to be complete by mid-2016 and online by May 2017. The three other reactors are all due to be complete by 2020, and producing nearly a quarter of the nation’s electricity needs.

While the plant is being constructed in the UAE, most of the components are being built in Korea, before being shipped to the Middle East and installed on site.

“The fact that they can proceed from zero to a fully functioning facility within 10 years is a very clear example that it can be done. The UAE has looked at existing designs and developments from Korea and the USA, learned from what works, accepted guidance and adapted this to suit their requirements,” Commissioner Scarce said.

“Under the existing International Energy Agency guidelines, the standard milestone for such a project is upwards of 15 years, so it was important for us to visit and see what regulatory framework, structure and safety processes were in place, and what we could learn from their approach.”

The UAE visit concludes the Commission’s current round of international meetings and site inspections, with locations in the USA, Canada, UK, Asia and Europe all visited over the past six weeks.

“What we have seen during this time is some of the well done and the not so well done, and it has certainly sharpened our views over the entire nuclear fuel cycle, and on how – or if – South Australia might be more active in the nuclear fuel cycle,” he said.



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