Barakah starts up Unit 1; US lifts ban on nuclear export funding

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Barakah nuclear power plant control room (Source: ENEC)

Nawah Energy Company (Nawah) has successful started up Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the United Arab Emirates first nuclear power station, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said on August 1.

“Today is a truly historic moment for the UAE. It is the culmination of more than a decade of vision, strategic planning and robust program management. Despite the recent global challenges, our team has demonstrated outstanding resilience and commitment to the safe delivery of Unit 1,” H.E. Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, said in a statement. 

Nawah is the operation and maintenance subsidiary of ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). 

The unit’s start up marks the first time the reactor has safely produced heat, which creates steam to power a turbine and generate electricity. The unit will be connected to the grid over the next few months after which the operators will gradually raise the power levels in a process known as Power Ascension Testing (PAT). It is expected to enter commercial operations before the end of the year. 

Construction of unit 1 began in 2012 while fuel loading was completed in March. 

ENEC recently announced the completion of the construction of unit 2 - Nawah is currently conducting readiness preparations - while construction of units 3 and 4 is in the final stages. 

The plant’s four units will each generate around 1.3 GW with the plant producing some 5.6 GW of electricity once all four units are fully operational. 

US lifts ban on nuclear export financing 

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has changed its Environmental and Social Policy and Procedures (ESPP) to enable backing of nuclear power projects, the corporation said in a statement on July 23. 

The decision came after a 30-day public notice and comment period and is expected to boost U.S. influence in the global energy sector as the DFC opens part of its total investment limit of $60 billion to support nuclear projects worldwide. 

The DFC received more than 800 responses during the public comment period, with 98% in support of the proposed change. 

Based on feedback by some Senators and Representatives, the DCF will prioritize support of the advanced nuclear technology in emerging and frontier markets that adhere to the highest safety standards, the DFC said. 

“Today marks a significant step forward in U.S. efforts to support the energy needs of allies around the world. The change also positions DFC to accelerate growth in developing economies with limited energy resources,” said DFC Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler. 

The change will also offer an alternative to the financing of authoritarian regimes while advancing U.S. non-proliferation safeguards and supporting U.S. nuclear competitiveness, the DFC said. 

US nuclear market revenues seen at $1.3-$1.9 trillion to 2050 

U.S. nuclear market revenues could be worth between $1.3 to $1.9 trillion over the next 30 years, according to a study by research group UxC prepared for the Nuclear Energy Institute. 

The report aimed to analyse global and regional nuclear power outlooks over the period to 2050 based on the scenarios presented by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its report ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C’, UxC said. 

The review of the scenarios outlined in the IPCC report, which aim to achieve carbon mitigation goals, indicated a median target for nuclear power capacity of 850 GWe by 2050, with a total of around 640 GWe of new nuclear capacity to be built in the next 30 years, the report said. 

“Market expenditures to achieve the 2050 nuclear target are expected to be substantial over the entire forecast period. Cumulative nuclear expenditures are estimated at $8.6 trillion in 2019 US dollars, which includes capital and operating costs,” the report said. 

“U.S. suppliers will have numerous opportunities to expand their market presence, including in new reactor construction projects (large, small modular, and advanced designs), maintaining and fuelling the global fleet of reactors, as well as decommissioning aging reactors.” 

Spain’s GDES wins first Swedish decommissioning contract 

GD Energy Services (GDES), a Spanish family-owned company with international experience in energy-industry maintenance, has won a four-year contract to support the decommissioning of the Barsebäck and Oskarshamn nuclear power stations in Sweden, the group said in a statement. 

Work will be in two phases, with two years on the Barsebäck plant and two years on the Oskarhamn plant, it said. 

Up to 12 technicians and specialists will take part in the cutting of various components from the dismantling of the reactors at both plants, delivering post-segmentation work on four reactor pressure vessels as well as cutting and dismantling of the inlet and outlet lines of the hydraulic control rod drive housings, the company said. 

“It was in Sweden where we first had the opportunity to learn about refuelling support services. That was the starting point for many of the services we still provide today in the nuclear industry. We now return to Sweden 40 years later with a decommissioning project,” said GDES CEO Hector Dominguis. 

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