UAE's Barakah nuclear plant closer to full operation after licence issued for final unit

Nawah Energy Company licensed to run Unit 4 for 60 years

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The UAE has issued an operating licence for the fourth and final unit of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant.

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) on Friday announced the operating licence for Unit 4 had been granted to Nawah Energy Company, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s subsidiary responsible for running the nuclear power plant.

Nawah is licensed to operate Unit 4 for 60 years.

It submitted a 14,000-page application in 2017 to operate Units 3 and 4. FANR said the licence was approved after a thorough assessment involving more than 170 inspections of the area.

FANR carried out the assessment for Unit 4 following the issuance of the operating licence for Unit 3 in June last year.

When fully operational, the entire plant will produce enough electricity to cover 25 per cent of the country’s energy needs.

"Today marks a historic moment for the UAE, where it realised its vision that started 15 years ago in developing the first-in-the-region peaceful nuclear energy programme," said Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and deputy chairman of the board of management of FANR.

"The success of the UAE Nuclear Energy Programme and the ability to deliver it within a record span of time, adhering to the best international nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation standards, made the country a role model for many nations who are embarking on developing a nuclear energy programme."

Christer Viktorsson, director general of FANR, said it has certified 215 reactor operators, 78 of whom are Emiratis.

"I would like to underscore that the review of the operating licence application for the Unit 4 was conducted by a team consisting of almost 90 per cent Emirati nuclear experts," Mr Viktorsson said.

"This indicates the success of FANR’s strategy in building the capability and skills of Emiratis to regulate the nuclear sector and ensure its sustainability."


Nawah will now carry out a period of commissioning to prepare the unit for commercial operation.

FANR issued the first operating licence for Unit 1 in February 2020 and another for Unit 2 in March 2021.

Commercial operations at Unit 1 started in April 2021, and in its first year it prevented the release of more than five million tonnes of carbon emissions by replacing the power that would previously have been generated by fossil fuels.

It was the equivalent of more than “one million cars driven for a year”, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation said.

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 national power sector’s carbon emissions.

Updated: November 22, 2023, 6:10 AM