The UAE will award a contract in early 2012 for the supply of nuclear fuel to run its four nuclear reactors which the country is planning to construct as part of an ambitious peaceful programme to meet its growing energy needs.
The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), a government establishment created last year to oversee the ambitious project, also said it would launch construction work for the infrastructure of the plants in Barrakah in the western region in mid 2012 to pave the way for their operation in 2017.
“Enec will announce the winner of a bid to supply nuclear fuel for the four plans in the first quarter of 2012,” said Fahd Al-Qahtani, information director at Enec.
“Fuel supplies will cover an operational period of 15 years…our tender to buy nuclear fuel conforms to the highest quality and international safety standards,” he told the semi official Arabic language daily 'Al Ittihad'.
The UAE will be the first country in the region to have nuclear power plants for peaceful purposes under a landmark $20-billion (Dh74 billion) contract signed with a South Korean-led consortium just before the end of 2009.
Under the agreement, inked on December 27, the state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) and is partners in the consortium will design, build and run the reactors that will produce 5,600 MW of electricity.While the contract to build the reactors is worth about $20 billion, the consortium expects to earn another $20 billion by jointly operating the plants for 60 years.
The reactors are scheduled to start supplying electric power to the UAE grid in 2017. The Kepco-led consortium includes Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Samsung C&T Corp,Doosan Heavy Industries, and US-based Westinghouse Electric, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp.
“Infrastructure construction work for the first plant will be launched in mid 2012…work for the other units will be launched before the end of 2013 in line with a plan devised by ENEC,” Qahtani said.
The UAE has said the project is intended to diversify its energy supply sources and meet its rapid growing electricity demand, which is projected to surge to around 40,000 MW in 2020 from nearly 15,000 MW in 2009.Officials said the project would also save the country’s hydrocarbon resources, estimated at 98 billion barrels of crude oil and 6.5 trillion cubic metres of gas.
'Al Ittihad' said the nuclear project will provide nearly 25 per cent of the UAE’s total energy needs of nearly 40,000 MW in 2020. Around seven per cent will be generated through renewable energy and the rest through conventional means.