The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has announced that its operating and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, has successfully launched the reactor of unit 4 of the Barakah NPP in the Al Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi. This marks its initial production of heat through nuclear fission, used for generating electricity by turning a turbine with steam. In the coming weeks, unit 4 will be linked to the national electricity grid and will gradually increase its power output to full capacity.

Barakah is the first multi-unit operational NPP in the Arab world, with the operational teams starting up a unit every year since 2020. Construction of the Barakah NPP began in 2011. Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco) led the consortium that is building the plant comprising four APR1400 reactors. Unit 1 was connected to the grid in 2020, followed by unit 2 in 2021. Unit 1 began commercial operation in April 2021 and unit 2 in March 2022 and unit 3 was connected to the grid in October 2022. Once all four units are operating at full power, they will contribute up to 25% of the UAE's National Determined Contributions to Net Zero and be the largest source of dispatchable clean electricity.

ENEC said each unit was started up more efficiently than the previous one, as institutional knowledge and experience were applied to each subsequent unit. Unit 3 was delivered four months faster than the unit 2 schedule, and five months faster than the unit 1 schedule, demonstrating the significant benefit of building multiple units within a phased timeline.

ENEC Managing Director & CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi said the start-up of Barakah 4 is a significant achievement “as we now enter into a new era to deliver the full promise of the Barakah Plant”. He added: “In the past five years, the UAE has added more clean electricity per capita than any other nation globally, with 75% coming solely from the Barakah Plant, demonstrating how pivotal nuclear energy is in decarbonising the country’s power sector. The knowledge and expertise of our local teams positions us well ahead of the curve, setting the nation on a pioneering course towards sustainable economic and environmental prosperity. Our journey reflects a bold vision, coupled with rigorous standards of quality and safety, to effectively deploy civil nuclear energy as a proven, viable solution for tackling energy security and climate change.”

Based on the knowledge, expertise and technology gained from developing the Barakah Plant, ENEC aims to expand the UAE’s nuclear energy sector by advancing research and development and adopting the latest nuclear energy technologies. This includes small modular reactors and advanced reactors to generate clean electrons and molecules, such as steam, hydrogen and ammonia, as well as providing process heat for various industries. ENEC says it is working with local and international stakeholders to identify technology and project collaboration opportunities to progress deployment pathways.

Meanwhile, the UAE Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR has officially launched the Emirates Nuclear & Radiation Academy (ENRA). ENRA is a digital platform offering training and development programmes that enables meeting the current and future manpower needs in the nuclear and radiation sector in the UAE.

Image courtesy of Nawah Energy Company