Successful start-up of Barakah Nuclear Plant Unit 1

By Eudore R. Chand

UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

ABU DHABI 2 August 2020: The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), yesterday announced that its operating and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, has successfully started up Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, located in the Al Dhafrah Region of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

This step is the most historic milestone to date in the delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme, as part of the process towards generating clean electricity for the nation for at least the next 60 years.

Successful operation by Emiratis, moment of pride: Khalifa

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has commended the success made by Emirati cadres in operating the Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the Arab world’s first plant for peaceful nuclear energy, as a moment of pride and the most historic achievement in the UAE’s peaceful nuclear energy programme, said Wam.

President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, said: “This milestone, which comes a few days after the launch of the Hope Probe, confirms that our state – guided by Emirati cadres – is steadily progressing ahead with well-weighed plans towards building a robust knowledge base in all fields.”

He congratulated those responsible for the programme which, he said, endows “our scientific research institutions” with a wealth of knowledge and extensive experience.

“We congratulate our people on this breakthrough milestone which will shape our vision for the future. We also congratulate our national cadres who have translated our vision and objectives into reality that the entire world will be proud of.”

“Fortunately, what we’ve achieved today and recently, is going side by side with the Golden Jubilee celebrations marking the historic union of our nation,” the President continued.

“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.”

The President stressed that this achievement, which was made by the true and active participation of national competencies, constitutes a qualitative addition of high value that establishes the status of our state in this vital sector, which is the exclusive domain of a few countries.

He expressed his pride and appreciation for what has been achieved on the ground, which, he said, gives “our children” the enthusiasm and strong motivation to move forward in completing the rest of the mission with the same will and determination.

“Our State believes that investing in science and in the capabilities of youth is a successful bet to win and delivering the future.”

The President congratulated His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Their Highnesses Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, and the UAE people on this glorious event during which, he said, “we recall the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the other Founding Fathers who laid the solid foundations for a state that is able to head towards the future.”

Comprehensive testing

Since receipt of the Operating License from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulations (FANR), in February 2020, and the completion of fuel assembly loading in March 2020, 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 first nuclear energy reactor of the Barakah plant.

The start-up of Unit 1 marks the first time that the reactor safely produces heat, which is used to create steam, turning a turbine to generate electricity. Nawah’s qualified and licensed team of nuclear operators focus on safely controlling the process and controlling the power output of the reactor. After several weeks and conducting numerous safety tests, Unit 1 will be ready to connect to the UAE’s electricity grid, delivering the first megawatts of clean electricity to the homes and businesses of the nation.

Testing has been undertaken with the continued oversight of the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, FANR, and follows the World Association of Nuclear Operator’s (Wano), completion of a Pre Start-up Review , PSUR, in January 2020, prior to receipt of the Operating License, which ensures Unit 1 is aligned with international best practice in the nuclear energy industry.

Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, said: “Today is a truly historic moment for the UAE. It is the culmination of more than a decade of vision, strategic planning and robust program management. Despite the recent global challenges, our team has demonstrated outstanding resilience and commitment to the safe delivery of Unit 1. We are now another step closer to achieving our goal of supplying up to a quarter of our Nation’s electricity needs and powering its future growth with safe, reliable, and emissions-free electricity.

Once the unit is connected to the grid, the nuclear operators will continue with a process of gradually raising the power levels, known as Power Ascension Testing, PAT. Throughout, the systems of Unit 1 are continuously monitored and tested as the unit proceeds towards full electricity production in line with all regulatory requirements and the highest international standards of safety, quality and security. Once the process is completed over the course of a number of months, the plant will deliver abundant baseload electricity at full capacity to power the growth and prosperity of the UAE for decades to come.

First in Arab World

The UAE is the first country in the Arab World, and the 33rd nation globally, to develop a nuclear energy plant to generate safe, clean, and reliable baseload electricity.

The Barakah plant is significantly contributing to the UAE’s efforts to move towards the electrification of its energy sector, and the decarbonisation of electricity production.

When fully operational, the plant will produce 5.6 gigawatts of electricity while preventing the release of more than 21 million tons of carbon emissions every year, equivalent to the removal of 3.2 million cars from the Nation’s roads annually.

Since the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme commenced in 2009, ENEC has worked closely with international nuclear bodies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and WANO, in line with the robust regulatory framework of FANR. To date, more than 255 inspections have been undertaken by FANR to ensure the Barakah plant and its people and processes meet the highest standards of nuclear quality and safety. These national reviews have been supported by more than 40 assessments and peer reviews by the IAEA and WANO.

ENEC recently announced the construction completion of Unit 2, with operational readiness preparations now underway by Nawah. Construction of Units 3 and 4 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is in the final stages, with the overall construction completion of the four units now standing at 94 percent.



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