The UAE has issued an operating licence for the third unit of its Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, it was announced on Friday.
The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, said the operating licence for Unit 3 has been 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.
In 2017, Nawah submitted its application to get the operating licence for Units 3 and 4. FANR said the licence was approved after a thorough assessment.
“This is another historic moment for the UAE, being the first Arab country in the region to operate a nuclear power plant and culminating efforts of 14 years in building such a programme," said Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency and deputy chairman of the federal authority's board of management.
“The UAE nuclear energy programme, including the nuclear law and regulations, conforms to the safety standards of the International Atomic Energy Agency and international best practices.
"FANR has ensured its implementation during the construction of the Barakah nuclear power plant."
Now, Nawah will undertake a period of commissioning to prepare for the commercial operation and the nuclear authority will conduct inspections to ensure the fuel load and power accession processes are completed according to regulatory requirements.
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 five 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.
“Unit 1 of the Barakah plant has generated more than 10.5 terawatt hours of clean electricity, powering homes and businesses across the UAE and enabling businesses to become more sustainable and access ESG [environmental, social and governance] funding through clean energy certification,” Enec said.
A terawatt is 1,000 gigawatts — or one million, million watts. A terawatt hour is a unit of energy equal to outputting one terawatt of energy for one hour.
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, 2022, less than a year after Unit 1.
Unit 3 construction was completed in 2021, while Unit 4 is close to completion.
The development of the Barakah plant as a whole is now more than 97 per cent complete.
Enec oversees the plant, while Nawah Energy Company is the operator.
By 2025, the Barakah plant is expected to produce 85 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s clean electricity and will be the biggest contributor to reducing the UAE power sector’s carbon emissions.