Four reactors will supply power by 2020 to help deal with emirate’s escalating energy needs

A South Korean consortium has been awarded a contract worth about £12.5bn to build four nuclear plants in the UAE.

The group, led by the Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco), beat bids from a US-Japanese group and a French firm.

The contract is the single biggest foreign deal won by South Korea. The president’s office described the deal as “the largest mega-project in Korean history”.

The nuclear reactors should be up and running by 2020, by which time electricity demand in the UAE is expected to have more than doubled. The first plant is scheduled to begin supplying power in 2017.

As well as Kepco, the winning consortium includes Samsung, Hyundai, Doosan Heavy Industries, US firm Westinghouse and Japanese firm Toshiba.