Third unit of Barakah nuclear energy plant connected to UAE grid

Arab world's first multi-unit nuclear power plant will eventually cover 25 per cent of the country’s energy needs

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The third unit of the UAE's Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has delivered its first supply of carbon-free electricity, after being successfully connected to the national grid.

The latest milestone in the country's clean energy drive comes only weeks after the reactor was switched on.

Unit 3 has the capacity to supply up to 1,400 megawatts of emission-free energy, helping to power the UAE's fight against climate change.

An operating licence for the third unit of the Abu Dhabi plant was issued in June.

Nawah Energy Company, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s subsidiary responsible for the operation of the nuclear power plant, connected the unit to the UAE’s transmission grid.

Following its connection, officials will begin the process of gradually raising power levels at Unit 3, in a process known as power ascension testing.

This process will be regularly monitored and tested until maximum electricity production is reached, in line with international safety standards.

Mohamed Al Hammadi, managing director and chief executive of Enec, said it was another proud moment for the UAE's Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme.

“Our leadership’s long-term vision and decisions more than 13 years ago are paying dividends today," he said.

"Connecting Unit 3 to the UAE transmission grid adds thousands more megawatts of clean electricity to power all aspects of society, replaces the need to burn fossil fuels for energy, and through clean energy certification, gives many companies in the UAE a unique competitive advantage.

"I am proud of our Emirati led teams who continue to showcase world-class levels of capability, knowledge and expertise – powering a net zero economy through their work.”

The Arab world's first nuclear plant is rapidly taking shape and will be central to the Emirates' ambitious sustainability strategy for years to come.

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

In February 2020 and March 2021, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation issued the operating licences for Unit 1 and Unit 2, respectively.

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

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

It is the equivalent of more than “one million cars driven for a year”, 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.

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

Unit 3's construction was completed last year, while Unit 4 is close to completion.

Gates backs Barakah plans

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates this week praised the UAE for its ambitious efforts to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, highlighting the significant progress being made on the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant.

Commending the UAE on its efforts, Mr Gates said the emirates was “very forward-looking” in its ambitions, and was setting aggressive goals as part of its transition to cleaner energy sources.

“The nuclear reactors at the Barakah power plant that are operational and pumping electricity into the grid are examples of how the country is managing the transition thoughtfully,” he said.

He welcomed the UAE's support of the green agenda in a video address broadcast at the Countdown to Cop27 event on Thursday, held at the Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: October 08, 2022, 8:28 AM