Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) will officially launch the UAE’s first civilian nuclear power project at a meeting this month.

A South Korean team of Kepco, Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Samsung Corporation signed the $40bn contract to build the country’s first four nuclear reactors on 27 December.

The initial launch meeting for the project will be held between the consortium and Enec during the second weekend of January.

According to sources close to the winning consortium, the team will then start by carrying out a site study at Sila, in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region. This will include an environmental impact assessment and geological surveys. At the same time, contractors will start enabling works on the conventional power portion of the scheme.

This will involve site levelling and earthworks, together with the construction of site offices and accommodation units. The contractors will then begin work on the main construction packages, which include seawater intakes and concrete structures for the reactors and power stations.

Before the Kepco-led team can begin the main construction work on the nuclear portion of the project, however, it must submit a preliminary safety analysis report to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation.

If the UAE’s nuclear regulator is satisfied with the report, it will issue the developers with a construction permit. The process of gaining the permit is expected to take two years.

As a result, construction on the nuclear plant is not scheduled to begin until 2012, with the first reactor to be deployed in 2017.