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UAE could start first nuclear reactor this quarter following delays

Dubai — The UAE, which is building the first nuclear plants in the Persian Gulf, may start its first nuclear reactor during this quarter once needed operating licenses are granted, the operating companysaid on Sunday.

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Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation said that Nawah Energy Co., its operating and maintenance unit, is progressing to become ready for startup.

"The loading of the first nuclear fuel assemblies into Unit 1 is expected to take place in Q1 2020, once all requirements have been met and Nawah is in receipt of the Operating License from Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR)," an ENEC spokesperson told S&P Global Platts in reply to emailed questions.

ENEC did not give a reason for the delay in the start-up of the first nuclear reactor, which was supposed to commence in 2017 following the start of building in 2012.

Once all four reactors are up and running, the plants will supply up to 25% of the UAE's electricity needs.

"FANR is currently conducting rigorous and stringent reviews of the Operating License Application, which was submitted by ENEC in March 2015, and is finalizing its operational readiness assessments to support this review," ENEC said.

"Following the initiation of plant start-up, Unit 1 power levels will be increased in stages and the first megawatts of electricity from peaceful nuclear energy will be delivered to the UAE grid."

The UAE, which currently relies mostly on gas for power and water generation, is adding renewable energy and nuclear power to its energy mix as it frees up gas for consumption in industriesand other sectors.

-- Dania Saadi, dania.el.saadi@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Claudia Carpenter, claudia.carpenter@spglobal.com