Tender launched for UAE nuclear fuel plant

24 January 2024

The UAE's Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced it has launched a tender for a domestic nuclear fuel assembly fabrication facility. The facility will produce fuel assemblies for the Barakah nuclear power plant.

The Barakah plant (Image: ENEC)

"Over the past 18 months, we have been conducting an extensive review into the needs of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme going forwards and specifically the strategic supply of the fuel assemblies needed to power the UAE's Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant over the next 60 years ahead," ENEC said. "As part of examining a range of options, we have entered into the tendering for a domestic fuel assembly fabrication facility."

It said the facility would be dedicated to the industrial fabrication of fuel assemblies from their various components.

"Although the fuel assembly facility will neither involve enrichment or reprocessing, the fabrication of fuel assemblies remains a regulated nuclear activity, given the need for stringent nuclear quality standards," ENEC noted.

The UAE embarked on its plan to implement a nuclear energy programme in 2008 when its government made the decision to build and operate a nuclear power plant to provide 25% of the country's electricity needs, diversifying its energy sources and supporting its long-term energy vision and net zero goals. Construction of the first unit began in 2012, and Barakah 1 was connected to the grid in 2020. The fourth and final unit at the plant is currently preparing to start up.

As part of its nuclear energy policy, the UAE made the decision to forgo domestic uranium enrichment and nuclear fuel reprocessing, two key elements of the country's commitment to non-proliferation.

To obtain nuclear fuel for the Barakah plant, ENEC conducted an extensive procurement competition with international nuclear fuel suppliers. Once the procurement process was complete, the company entered into contracts with six suppliers to provide materials and services, including: the purchase of natural uranium concentrate; the purchase of enriched uranium product and related products and services; and conversion and enrichment services.

Fuel assemblies are currently manufactured in South Korea by Kepco Nuclear Fuel - part of the prime contractor consortium led by Korea Electric Power Company - and then shipped to the UAE.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News