UAE's Barakah nuclear power plant starts up third unit

Switch-on of reactor hailed as key step forward in country's clean energy drive

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The UAE's nuclear power plant marked a “major milestone” on Thursday as the third of its four units was switched on.

An operating licence for the third unit of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant was issued in June.

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, said the operating licence was granted to Nawah Energy Company, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s subsidiary responsible for the operation of the nuclear power plant.

Nawah is licensed to operate Unit 3 for 60 years.

The reactor is expected to be connected to the national grid in the “coming weeks”, said Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.

Start-up is the first time the unit produces heat through nuclear fission. The heat is used to create steam, turning a turbine to generate electricity.

Barakah is the region’s first operational multi-unit nuclear plant.

Its power generation will significantly reduce the country's use of gas-fired power stations to generate electricity.

In February 2020 and March 2021, FANR issued the operating licenses for Unit 1 and Unit 2, respectively.

Commercial operations at Unit 1 started on April 18, 2021, and within a year the energy produced by it prevented the release of more than 5 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

This is the quantity of emissions that would have been released if fossil fuels had instead been used to generate power.

It is the equivalent of more than “one million cars driven for a year”, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) said in April.

The four units of the Barakah plant will produce enough electricity to cover 25 per cent of the country’s energy needs. It is now halfway towards this goal.

Unit 2 of the plant started commercial operations on March 24, less than a year after Unit 1.

Unit 3's construction was completed in 2021, while Unit 4 is close to completion.

Unit 3, once commercially operational, will add another 1,400 megawatts of zero-carbon emission electricity capacity to the national grid, providing a significant boost for UAE energy security and efforts to combat climate change.

“We have reached another major milestone in the delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme today, as we move forwards with the provision of strategically significant clean energy for the UAE,” said Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, managing director and chief executive of Enec.

“The Barakah Plant is spearheading the decarbonisation of the power sector, sustainably generating abundant electricity to meet growing demand and power growth.

“The UAE has developed a world-class nuclear programme that builds on experience and continuously shares its lessons with global industry peers, making the Barakah plant a case study for the world on a new nuclear project delivery.”

Updated: September 22, 2022, 3:31 PM
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