The United Arab Emirates began loading fuel rods into the first reactor at its Barakah nuclear power plant, the operators said on Wednesday, two days after the regulators gave the green light.
On Monday, the National Nuclear Regulatory Agency announced that it had granted operating approval for the first of the plant's four reactors to enable commercial operations to begin.
The facility, the first in the Arab world, was scheduled to go into operation in late 2017, but suffered a number of delays that officials attributed to security and regulatory requirements.
"The Nawah Energy Company has started loading the first nuclear fuel assemblies to safely and gradually start operating and then generating clean electricity," said a statement from Nawah.
The statement added that Unit 1 will begin commercial operation after a "series of tests" leading to the launch process.
During the process, the device is synchronized with the power grid and the first power is generated.
"Our teams are trained, certified, and ready to safely begin testing and starting processes for Unit 1," said Mark Reddemann, CEO of Nawah.
The authorities in Abu Dhabi announced in January that the facility on the Gulf Coast west of the capital would be up and running within a few months.
The UAE has significant oil and gas reserves, but with a power-hungry population of 10 million, it has made huge investments in developing clean alternatives, including solar energy.
The facility is a regional premiere – Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, has announced plans to build up to 16 nuclear reactors, but the project is ongoing.
It is being built by a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation at a cost of around $ 24.4 billion.
If the four reactors are fully functional, they can generate 5,600 megawatts of electricity, which corresponds to around 25 percent of national needs. The other three reactors are almost done.
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