ENEC announces start up of Unit 3 at Barakah Nuclear Plant

ENEC’s Unit 3 will be connected to the national electricity grid in the coming weeks as Abu Dhabi advances its use of renewable energy

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has announced that its operating and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company (Nawah) has successfully started up Unit 3 of the Barakah Nuclear Plant, which is in the Al Dhafra region of the emirate of Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

Nuclear power progress, on the way to net-zero

In a statement, ENEC said that the start-up of Unit 3 shows the significant progress being made in bringing the four units of the Barakah Plant, the first multi-unit operational nuclear plant in the Arab World, online. 

The milestone also highlights the acceleration of the decarbonisation of the UAE’s power sector on the way to net-zero by 2050. The start-up of Unit 3 has been achieved one year after the start-up of Unit 2, with the next key milestone being the connection of Unit 3 to the national electricity grid in the coming weeks, the statement added.

Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, said: “We have reached another major milestone in the delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program today, as we move forwards with the provision of strategically significant clean energy for the UAE. 

“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.”

Once commercially operational, Unit 3 will add another 1,400 megawatts of zero-carbon emission electricity capacity to the national grid, a major boost for UAE energy security, and a major step forward in tackling climate change. 

The clean electricity generated at Barakah is sustainably powering homes, business and high-tech industries across the UAE and the successful development of the plant demonstrates the country’s extensive megaproject management capabilities, Al Hammadi highlighted.

He also pointed out that the announcement comes at a time when many countries are looking to mitigate energy shortages as a result of the global energy crisis. It further emphasises that the UAE’s decision to add nuclear energy to its energy mix back in 2008 is now delivering results, providing a clean and reliable base load source of electricity for the nation.

“Thanks to the data-driven decisions of the UAE leadership, Barakah is now spearheading domestic energy security and sustainability in parallel, at the time of a global energy crisis, highlighting the unique capabilities of nuclear energy in solving energy security and sustainability in parallel. 

“The commissioning of the Plant is just the beginning, with innovation and R&D now key in ensuring the realisation of the full scope of the Program,” Al Hammadi added.

Nuclear energy operations

Nawah, the joint venture nuclear operations and maintenance subsidiary of ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), has been safely progressing through a comprehensive testing programme, prior to successfully completing the start-up of the third nuclear energy reactor of the Barakah Plant. 

Testing has been undertaken under the continued oversight of the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), and follows the World Association of Nuclear Operators’ (WANO) completion of a Pre-Start-Up Review (PSUR), prior to receipt of the Operating License, which ensures Unit 3 is aligned with international best practice in the nuclear energy industry.

Start-up is the first time Unit 3 has produced heat through nuclear fission. The heat is used to create steam, turning a turbine to generate electricity. Making use of the experience gained in the start-up of Units 1 and 2, the qualified and licensed team of nuclear operators conducted numerous safety tests after safely loading fuel into the reactor earlier this year.

In the coming weeks, Unit 3 will be connected to the national electricity grid and the operations team will continue with the process of gradually raising power levels, known as Power Ascension Testing (PAT). The process will be continuously monitored and tested until maximum electricity production is reached, while adhering to all regulatory requirements and the highest international standards of safety, quality and security.

Both Units 1 and 2 of the Barakah Plant are operating commercially, providing an abundant source of clean and reliable electricity 24/7, while Unit 4 is in the final stages of commissioning prior to completion of construction.

Commenting on this milestone for the UAE, Eng. Ali Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of Nawah, said: “We are already increasing power in the reactor, generating more heat and preparing for the delivery of the first megawatts of clean electricity to the grid, in accordance with national regulations and international standards. We look forward to the upcoming connection of Unit 3 to the national electricity grid as we work to deliver up to 25% of the UAE’s electricity demand.”

The Barakah plant has generated high-value jobs and stimulates the growth of local industries. It has also provided significant environmental benefits in the present, and for the next 60 years and beyond, through the rapid decarbonisation of the energy sector. When fully operational, the plant will prevent 22.4m tons of carbon emissions - the leading cause of climate change - every year.

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