DUBAI | Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:25am EDT
(Reuters) – The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation has asked the United Arab Emirates’ Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) to approve some preparatory work for the country’s first nuclear power plant, ENEC said on Sunday.
The oil-exporting UAE has plans to build four nuclear reactors by 2020 to meet growing domestic energy demand. FANR asked for design and site reviews after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, but said the reviews would not delay plans.
After applying for a license at the end of 2010, ENEC is still awaiting approval to build the Braka nuclear Units 1 and 2 but is pushing for permission to prepare the sites for pouring concrete to house the rectors.
“ENEC is not authorized to pour concrete for the permanent power block until it is granted a construction License from FANR,” it said in a statement.
“ENEC submitted its Construction License Application for Braka Units 1 and 2 to FANR on December 27, 2010 and the application is currently under review.”
The UAE awarded the contract to build the reactors to a consortium of Korean companies led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) in December 2009.
The first unit could start commercial operations in 2017 — subject to timelyregulatory approval — and ENEC hopes to pour the first concrete for the first reactor in late 2012, with foundations flowing for the second block in late 2013.
Several countries in the Middle East have said they want to develop civilian nuclear programs to meet rising demand for electricity and boost fossil fuel exports.
But the Fukushima accident, caused by a huge earthquake and tsunami inJapan, has prompted some countries to reconsider their atomic ambitions.
(Reporting by Daniel Fineren; Editing by Sophie Walker)