Arab World Completes First Nuclear Reactor


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) completed the Arab world’s first nuclear reactor Saturday, signaling a regional shift away from natural gas-fired electricity.

Transitioning the UAE to nuclear power is an attempt to free up more of the country’s vast natural gas reserves for export. The UAE gets nearly 100 percent of its electricity from natural gas. The nuclear power plant s set to begin commercial electricity sometime next year.

The Barakah plant will eventually get three more reactors by 2020. The four reactors will perpetually provide 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity, generating 5,600 megawatts of power. The power plant will be in service for 60 to 100 years.

UAE has planned to build a nuclear reactor since 2006, thanks to financial help from Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim countries, as well as technical assistance from France and Iran.

Many other nuclear reactors are planned for the Middle East. Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 years at a cost of more than $80 billion. The first reactor should come online in 2022.

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