Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 29 October 2020

Barakah nuclear power plant connects to UAE grid for first time

The Arab world's first nuclear facility aims to eventually deliver 25 per cent of the country's electricity

The Barakah nuclear energy plant has secured another major milestone after successfully connecting to the UAE power grid for the first time.

The landmark Abu Dhabi facility – the Arab world's inaugural nuclear power plant – has produced its first megawatt of clean and environment-friendly electricity using nuclear energy.

The notable achievement comes less than three weeks after the plant became operational.

During the process, the generator in Unit 1 of the plant was integrated and synchronised with the requirements of the UAE’s national electricity transmission grid.

Since the first reactor was switched on at the end of July, operations teams have run a series of tests and steadily increased the power levels in order to produce the first megawatt of baseload electricity.

It is a crucial first step in an ambitious journey with an ultimate goal to deliver 25 per cent of the UAE's electricity with zero carbon emissions for several decades.

Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, chief executive of ENEC, heralded the announcement as the start of a new era for the country.

"The safe and successful connection of Unit 1 to the UAE grid marks the key moment when we begin to deliver on our mission to power the growth of the nation by supplying clean electricity, around the clock," he said.

"Grid connection of Unit 1 really is the beginning of a new era in our project, which is built upon years of preparation and adherence to the highest international safety and quality standards.

"We are confident in our people and our technology to continue to progress to reach commercial operations, and the completion of the remaining three units, with the goal to power up to 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity needs for at least the next 60 years.

"This project, in addition to the UAE’s efforts made in implementing other forms of clean power generation, delivers one of the most ambitious clean electricity transformations in the region and the world, setting the nation on a new track of sustainable development and electrification."

With integration to the grid complete, Unit 1's nuclear operators will gradually increase power levels.

Throughout this stage – known as power ascension testing – the team will follow best international practices to ensure the facility is brought towards full capacity in a safe manner.

The testing will be monitored by the UAE's independent nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), which has now conducted more than 280 inspections since the start of Barakah’s development.

This is in addition to more than 40 missions and assessments carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Association of Nuclear Operators.

This project delivers one of the most ambitious clean electricity transformations in the region and the world

Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi

Mr Al Hammadi lauded the contribution of the Emirati workforce in driving forward the nation's clean energy plans.

"I am especially proud of the talented UAE National engineers and nuclear professionals who contributed to the construction and commissioning of Unit 1, as well as the UAE national reactor operators and senior reactor operators who have trained for many years across the world and today have the nuclear intellect and know-how to safely manage the plant, to reach the key milestone to power the growth of the UAE with safe, clean and reliable electricity to the UAE grid, working alongside our international experts," he said.

The success was met with praise from FANR.

"Since issuing the operating licence in February for Unit 1 of Barakah nuclear power plant, FANR has continued its regulatory oversight: starting with fuel loading, testing, including the first criticality phase until connecting the unit to the UAE national electricity transmission grid to produce electricity," the authority said in a statement.

Nawah Energy Company, the operator, has met all regulatory requirements to initiate this phase, the authority added.

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"The phase is another historic milestone for the UAE Nuclear Energy Programme, which will lead to the full commercial operation of Unit 1 planned later this year," the statement said.

President Sheikh Khalifa led congratulatory messages earlier this month after the plant produced nuclear energy for the first time.

"We are proud of this achievement and confident in the abilities of our young scientists...It is one of the inspiring moments we live today that will be remembered with great pride by generations to come," he said.

Updated: August 19, 2020 03:02 PM

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