First UAE unit begins commercial operation

April 6, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Barakah-1 (right) is now providing reliable and sustainable electricity around the clock. Photo: ENEC

Unit 1 at the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah nuclear power plant has entered commercial operation and is now providing “constant, reliable, and sustainable electricity around the clock,” the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced this morning. ENEC added that, as a result of the event, the company now leads the largest decarbonization effort of any industry in the UAE.

Barakah-1 is one of four 1,345-MWe APR-1400 pressurized water reactors at the plant, which is operated by ENEC subsidiary Nawah Energy Company. The unit achieved initial criticality on August 1, 2020, and was connected to the grid on August 19.

Testimonials: “After more than a decade of strategic planning, program development, and construction, today we are confidently marking the start of a new chapter in the UAE’s transition to cleaner energy sources,” said Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, ENEC’s chief executive officer. “The Barakah plant uses a proven technology for significantly reducing carbon emissions to tackle climate change, one of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced. Our talented team of UAE nationals and international experts has worked tirelessly with the support of our leadership and international partners to reach this pivotal milestone in the UAE program’s history.”

The World Nuclear Association’s director general, Sama Bilbao y León, offered her congratulations on the milestone, saying, “When, in a few short years, the remaining three reactors join Unit 1, the Barakah plant will supply 25 percent of the electricity in the United Arab Emirates, a major contribution to the UAE’s plans to transition to a low-carbon energy system.”

She added, “The UAE’s commitment to a clean energy future that ensures, at the same time, the sustainable socio-economic development of everyone in the country is one that needs to be replicated by many more countries around the world. Nuclear power will need to be at the heart of this energy transformation if we are to stand a chance of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Background: The UAE and South Korea began a nuclear partnership in 2009, when Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) was awarded the prime contract to design, build, and help operate the Barakah plant, located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. In 2016, ENEC and Kepco signed an agreement for a long-term partnership to become joint owners of Nawah Energy and Barakah One Company, ENEC’s subsidiary in charge of the financial and commercial activities of the Barakah project, with ENEC owning 82 percent of the two companies and Kepco holding an 18 percent ownership stake.

Barakah-2 has completed fuel loading and is now working through a series of required processes prior to startup, scheduled for later this year. Construction of Units 3 and 4 are in the final stages, with the reactors 94 percent and 89 percent complete, respectively.

Barakah One Company signed a power purchase agreement with the Emirates Water and Electricity Company in 2016 to purchase all electricity generated at the plant for the next 60 years.

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