The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has announced the start-up of the second unit at UAE’s Barakah nuclear power plant, thirteen months after Barakah unit 1 reached first criticality. Unit 2’s start-up sees Barakah become the first multi-unit nuclear power plant in the region.
The UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) issued an operating licence for Barakah 2 to its operator, the Nawah Energy Company, in March, with fuel loading beginning soon after. The fuel loading, as well as the comprehensive programme of tests prior to the start-up of the unit, have been carried out under FANR oversight.
ENEC CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi said the startup of Barakah 2 marks a major milestone in the delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program. “With the start-up of unit 2, we are now almost halfway to achieving our goal of supplying up to a quarter of our nation’s electricity needs and enabling sustainable growth and in parallel, achieving UAE climate change targets,” he said.
Preparations will now continue towards grid connection and the start of commercial operations, Nawah CEO Ali Al Hammadi said. “We remain committed to ensuring nuclear operational excellence across all units, and we thank our partners in the UAE and across the globe for their continuous support in helping us achieve these milestones to the highest operating standards,” he added.
In the coming months, unit 2 will be connected to the national electricity grid and its operators will continue with a process of gradually raising the power levels, known as power ascension testing. 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, ENEC said.
“On behalf of the global nuclear industry, World Nuclear Association congratulates ENEC and the Barakah Team for the successful completion of this important milestone,” World Nuclear Association Director General Sama Bilbao y León said today. “UAE continues to demonstrate how to use nuclear energy to move to a clean electricity system.”
Four Korean-designed AP-1400 units are being built at Barakah, which is in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. The plant is already the largest single source of electricity in the UAE since unit 1, which achieved first criticality in August 2020, entered commercial operation in April of this year. When fully operational, the four unit plant will produce 5.6 gigawatts of electricity while preventing the release of more than 21 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
Construction of the first unit at Barakah begin in 2012, with work starting on the other units at roughly yearly intervals: construction of Barakah 2 began in April 2013. Construction of units 3 and 4 is now also in the final stages, with those units respectively 94% and 89% complete as of June this year, according to ENEC.
Nawah is a joint nuclear operations and maintenance subsidiary of ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation.