The oil-rich United Arab Emirates announced on Saturday the start-up of its Barakah nuclear power plant, a first in the Arab world.
“The UAE’s first nuclear reactor at the Barakah nuclear power plant has reached its first criticality and has successfully started up,” tweeted Hamad Alkaabi, the country’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“This is a historic milestone for the nation with a vision set to provide a new form of clean energy for the nation,” he tweeted in English, with a photo of technicians raising their arms to celebrate .
UAE Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum tweeted that the work at Barakah had “successfully loaded packages of nuclear fuel, carried out comprehensive tests and completed the ‘surgery”.
“Congratulations on having achieved this historic achievement in the energy sector and marking this important step in the roadmap for sustainable development,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
The UAE began loading fuel rods into the Barakah reactor in February, after regulators gave the green light for the first of the plant’s four reactors, paving the way for commercial operations.
The plant on the Gulf Coast west of Abu Dhabi was due to be commissioned in late 2017, but faced a number of delays that officials attributed to safety and regulatory requirements.
The Nawah Energy Company said at the time that Unit 1 would begin commercial operations after a “series of tests” leading up to the start-up process.
During the process, the unit will be synchronized with the power grid and the first electricity produced.
The UAE has significant oil and gas reserves, but with a population of 10 million hungry for electricity, it has made huge investments in developing clean alternatives, including solar power.
The plant is a regional first – Saudi Arabia, the world‘s largest oil exporter, has announced plans to build up to 16 nuclear reactors, but the project has yet to materialize.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)