A visit to the United Arab Emirates by South Korea's President Moon Jae-in included a ceremony celebrating the completion of the country's first nuclear power reactor, Barakah Unit 1, although start up of the reactor is currently on hold.
While preliminary testing of the reactor has been completed, fuel loading has not been loaded as the UAE's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has yet to sign off on the operating license due to reservations about the readiness of the plant's operator. At issue is whether or not the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation staff is fully trained to operate the plant.
One source, according to a Reuters report, said the plant that was constructed by the South Korean Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) would be loaded with fuel sometime in 2019.
The second irony of the construction completion ceremony is President Moon Jae-in's track record on nuclear power. Early in his presidency, Moon Jae-in announced plans to phase out nuclear power, which he considers unsafe. While that plan was put on hold due to a public backlash in support of nuclear power, the president has since pledged to block construction of any new nuclear plants in South Korea.
The Unit 1 ceremonies were also attended by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The Barakah facility currently under construction includes four Korean-designed reactors, marking a first for a region that has been the envy of the world due to its abundance of oil. However, even Arabian countries are looking at the nuclear power option as a way to conserve their oil for the more lucrative export market and to acknowledge the shifting temperament over oil in the face of global climate change.
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When does it start to generate electricity ?
It seems that announcing projected/target start up dates is much less common in the Middle East and Eurasia than in Western Europe and North America. Normally the owners/operators keep things vague, or don't announce anything at all beyond "the unit is now in cold testing", "the unit is now in commissioning", and so on.