UAE's second nuclear power plant unit starts commercial operations

Country's leaders hails the achievement that marks a crucial step on the UAE's road to achieving net zero emissions by 2050

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The second unit of the UAE's Barakah Nuclear Power Plant has started commercial operations, it has been confirmed.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, hailed the achievement on Thursday.

"We congratulate the UAE for its success in operating the second nuclear power plant in Barakah in Abu Dhabi, all employees and the 1,800 countrymen including engineers, operators and specialists," Sheikh Mohammed said on social media.

"I congratulate my brother Mohamed bin Zayed on the historic national achievement."

About 70 per cent of the workforce are Emirati and most are under 35.

"We are a young country that is betting on the young and the young generation are betting on making the country attain unprecedented historical prospects," he said.

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The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is a sustainable powerhouse for the UAE
Mohamed Al Hammadi, chief executive of Enec

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also hailed the start-up.

"The start of commercial operations at Unit 2 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is an important milestone in our nation’s clean energy journey that will make a significant contribution to the implementation of the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative both now [and] in the future," said Sheikh Mohamed.

Commercial power generation first began at the plant last year, when Unit 1 of a planned four came on stream.

It was a milestone moment for the UAE as it became the first Arab country to operate a nuclear energy plant.

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) oversees the plant, while Nawah Energy Company is the operator.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of Enec, said against the backdrop of "spiralling global natural gas prices", the significance of the nuclear section in clean energy generation only grows and brings the UAE a step closer to achieving "Net Zero 2050", referring to the nation's plan to achieve net-zero emissions by that year.

“As many nations around the globe recognise the essential role of nuclear energy as part of a diversified energy mix, the UAE offers a case study on the successful delivery of new-build nuclear," said Mr Al Mubarak.

Unit 2 adds 1,400 megawatts of zero-carbon emission electricity to the national grid, bringing the total produced by Units 1 and 2 to 2,800MW and further securing energy supply and advancing the UAE’s sustainability goals.

The four units of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi's Al Dhafra region. Photo: Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation

“The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is a sustainable powerhouse for the UAE," said Mohamed Al Hammadi, chief executive of Enec.

"The start of commercial operations at Unit 2 doubles the Barakah Plant’s generation of emissions-free electricity, enabling rapid decarbonisation of the UAE’s power sector in pursuit of Net Zero 2050."

Construction of the South Korean-designed plant in Abu Dhabi's Al Dhafra region began in 2012 and its four planned units will supply 5,600MW of energy.

The power plant will ultimately produce enough electricity to cover 25 per cent of the country’s energy needs and is now halfway towards this goal. This will prevent about 22.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, equivalent to the emissions of 4.8 million cars.

By 2025, the plant will be responsible for generating more than 85 per cent of Abu Dhabi emirate’s clean electricity, making it the biggest contributor to the Net Zero 2050 target.

“The start of Unit 2 commercial operations comes as a result of the world-class operating experience of our teams made up of UAE nationals and international experts," said Ali Al Hammadi, chief executive of Nawah.

"They have the skills and expertise in the nuclear industry over the years to safely provide constant, reliable and sustainable clean electricity around the clock from two identical units operating in parallel.”

The plant is one of the largest in the world, with four APR-1400 units. Supervision of the project comes from the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator FANR, which has conducted more than 335 inspections since the start of Barakah’s development.

It has overseen 42 missions and assessments by the International Atomic Energy Agency and World Association of Nuclear Operators

Units 3 and 4 are in the final stages of commissioning and are 95 per cent and 91 per cent complete respectively.

Updated: March 24, 2022, 8:51 AM
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