UAE’s Barakah-1 achieves first criticality

August 4, 2020, 12:34PMNuclear News

Initial criticality is achieved at Barakah-1. Photo: ENEC

Nawah Energy Company has successfully started up Unit 1 of the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah nuclear power plant, according to an announcement from Nawah’s parent company, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC). One of four 1,345-MWe APR-1400 pressurized water reactors at the plant, Unit 1 achieved initial criticality on August 1.

Construction of Barakah-1 was completed in March 2018, and fuel loading was completed in March of this year. Commercial operation for the unit is scheduled for later in 2020. Last month, ENEC announced that construction of Barakah-2 was complete and that construction of Barakah-3 and -4 were 92 percent and 85 percent complete, respectively.

What they’re saying: “Today is a truly historic moment for the UAE,” said Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, chief executive officer of ENEC. “It is the culmination of more than a decade of vision, strategic planning, and robust program management. Despite the recent global challenges, our team has demonstrated outstanding resilience and commitment to the safe delivery of Unit 1. We are now another step closer to achieving our goal of supplying up to a quarter of our nation’s electricity needs and powering its future growth with safe, reliable, and emissions-free electricity.”

Al Hammadi added that along with their power generation benefits, the Barakah reactors will support economic diversification by creating thousands of high-value jobs through the establishment of a sustainable local nuclear energy industry and supply chain. “We are grateful to the leadership for their continuous support in making this remarkable achievement happen, along with the support of our UAE stakeholders and Korean partners, and congratulate everyone involved in the program on this landmark occasion,” he said.

Background: The UAE–South Korea nuclear partnership began 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 a joint venture agreement for a long-term partnership to become joint owners of Nawah Energy and Barakah One Company, with ENEC owning 82 percent of the two companies and Kepco holding an 18 percent ownership stake.

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