One year of Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant’s operations: What it means

Abu Dhabi: The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has celebrated the first anniversary of the start of commercial operations at Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, located in the Al Dhafra region of the Abu Dhabi emirate.

Since April 2021, Unit 1 of the Barakah Plant has generated more than 10.5 Terawatt hours of clean electricity, powering homes and businesses across the UAE, and enabling businesses to become more sustainable and access ESG funding through clean energy certification.

Unit 1 has also prevented the release of more than 5 million tonnes of carbon emissions, equivalent to the emissions of more than 1 million cars driven for a year. The Barakah Plant is leading the largest decarbonisation effort in the Arab World and sustainably and securely powering the UAE on its path to Net Zero.

Clean energy target

Barakah Unit 2 achieved commercial operations on March 24, less than a year after Unit 1, doubling the benefits nuclear energy brings to the nation. The knowledge gained and lessons learned from operating Unit 1 have been reflected in operating Unit 2, resulting in significant efficiency gains, while maintaining the highest safety standards. Units 1 and 2 enable 50 per cent delivery of the target of the Barakah plant, to provide 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity for the next six decades.

Across the remainder of the Barakah project, Unit 3 construction was completed in 2021 and is now undergoing operational readiness preparations, and Unit 4 in the final stages of commissioning prior to construction completion. The development of the Barakah Plant as a whole is now more than 96 percent complete.

Generating power and jobs

Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, managing director and CEO of ENEC, said: “We are proud to be celebrating the first anniversary since the start of commercial operations of Unit 1 of the Barakah Plant in April 2021. The Plant is a sustainable powerhouse for the Nation , generating abundant emissions-free electricity 24/7. Barakah is a leading contributor to the UAE’s Net Zero target and we are rapidly decarbonising the power sector. ”

He added: “The tangible power generation coupled with significant emissions reduction demonstrates the benefits nuclear energy brings in accelerating the decarbonisation of the power sector. The Barakah Plant is just the beginning, as we now move forward in investing in R&D and innovation in areas including clean hydrogen, regional grids and SMR technology to further expand on the strong foundation we have created.

“We have offered hundreds of jobs to Emirati and international experts and will continue to inspire a generation of clean electricity champions and climate change leaders to join our program in the years to come.”

Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), the operating and maintenance subsidiary of ENEC, has now started the scheduled maintenance and refueling outage on Unit 1 which involves shutting down the reactor, implementing thousands of planned maintenance activities, and replacing around a third of the fuel assembles in the reactor core.

The remaining fuel assemblies at Unit 1 are being re-configured to ensure the optimal and efficient operation of the Unit. During this time, over 1,000 additional nuclear specialists have joined the existing team at Barakah to undertake this process in line with the highest national regulations and international standards.

On completion, the unit will be restarted and powered back up to full power to run for another 12 months. This planned refuel process will take place on each unit every 12 months.

Once operational, the four Units of the Barakah Plant will produce up to 5,600 MW of clean electricity and will prevent 22.4 million tons of carbon emissions every year. By 2025, the Barakah Plant will be producing 85 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s clean electricity and will be the biggest contributor to reducing the UAE power sector’s carbon emissions.

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