Construction of Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant's first unit has been completed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but operations have been postponed to 2018.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) finished construction activities this month and is ready for testing and commissioning by KEPCO's unit Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP).

The key contract was awarded to KEPCO in 2009 for construction of the plant.

ENEC's chief executive officer (CEO) Mohamed Al Hammadi was quoted by as saying: “The completion of Unit 1 construction activities and the handover of all systems for commissioning are important milestones in a project that is critical to the future energy mix of the UAE and they reflect the professionalism and dedication of everyone involved in the project.”

According to UAE law, construction and commencement of operations in nuclear power facilities require approval by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). Approval is needed for loading of fuel and commencement of the unit in form of an operating license.

"ENEC has pursued the highest standards of nuclear quality, safety, and operational transparency."

While the ENEC has secured approval from its board of directors, the operations have been postponed from 2017 to 2018. This decision was taken to ensure sufficient time for international assessments and adherence to nuclear industry safety standards.

Al Hammadi added: “Since 2009, ENEC has pursued the highest standards of nuclear quality, safety, and operational transparency.

“The approval of a timeline update projecting the initiation of Unit 1 nuclear operations in 2018 reflects the conservatism of ENEC’s management and board of directors, as well as our local, federal, and international stakeholders, all of who stand firmly united in the belief that long-term sustainable operations begin with strict adherence to nuclear safety.

"We believe that our continuous focus on quality and safety will position the UAE as a trusted contributor to the community of nuclear operators around the world.”

The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant will feature four APR-1400 units. The first unit’s construction commenced in 2012 and at full operational capacity, the four units will be able to cater to one-fourth of the country’s power requirements.