Fuel loading begins at Barakah 2

17 March 2021

The UAE’s Nawah Energy Company, the operations and maintenance subsidiary of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) announced on 15 March that the fuel handling team at the Barakah NPP had begun loading the first nuclear fuel assemblies into the reactor of unit 2, the first step in the process towards gradually beginning operations and electricity generation. This follows Nawah’s receipt of the Operating Licence for unit 2 from the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). Nawah said the team of experts at Barakah is following strict safety guidelines and international best practices in loading the 241 fuel assemblies, as they did in loading fuel into the unit 1 reactor in early 2020.

The process was assisted by the Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco), which led the consortium that us building the plant. In 2009, the Kepco-led consortium won a $20 billion contract to build four APR1400 reactors at Barakah, marking South Korea's first export of its indigenous reactor design. Unit 1 was completed in 2018 and expects to begin commercial operation this year.

Once the fuel assemblies are loaded, Nawah will run a series of tests, before beginning the start-up sequence process known as power ascension testing, after which the unit will be synchronised to the grid. Construction of unit 1 began in July 2012, unit 2 in May 2013, unit 3 in September 2014 and unit 4 in September 2015. Unit 3 is now 94% complete, unit 4 is 87% complete and the NPP overall is more than 95% complete. With all four units operating, the NPP will supply up to 25% of the UAE's electricity.

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