Unit 3 at Barakah nuclear power plant (photo credit: Enec)The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) announced on 4 November, on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow that unit 3 at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the UAE had been completed.

The unit has now been handed over for operational readiness activities and is on track to start up and deliver electricity in 2023, joining Barakah 1 (which is fully operational) and unit 2, which is connected to the UAE grid and undergoing testing while raising power levels.

Enec said this milestone means that the Barakah NPP will soon deliver an additional 1400MWe of electricity, “highlighting the UAE’s leading role as a clean energy leader”. 

The Barakah Plant is leading large-scale decarbonisation of the UAE’s power sector with unit 1 becoming the largest single electricity generator in the region in April 2021 and producing clean electricity 24/7. Barakah 2’s connection to the UAE grid in September 2021 propelled Barakah to the forefront of the nation’s emissions reduction efforts, well on the way to doubling clean energy production. By 2025, it is projected that the Barakah plant will have cut Abu Dhabi Emirate’s carbon emissions by 50%, “demonstrating the significant abilities of nuclear energy in producing baseload electricity without generating carbon emissions”. 

The focus of Barakah 3 in the next phase will shift to complete the operational readiness preparations, testing, regulatory inspections, and international assessments required to obtain the Operating Licence from the UAE Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).

Enec Managing Director and CEO, Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, commented: “With unit 1 already commercially operating and unit 2 recently connected to the UAE grid, unit 3 construction completion demonstrates the steady progress we are making with the development of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant. As the world gathers at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, the need for concrete actions to tackle climate change is indisputable and urgent. The Barakah Plant, with its rapid decarbonisation of the power sector, is delivering climate solutions today and with unit 3 construction now complete, we are progressing smoothly towards supplying a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs completely carbon free.”

He added: “By developing nuclear energy in the UAE, Enec is enabling sustainable growth and prosperity for the Nation through the provision of abundant, 24/7 clean electricity, whilst underpinning intermittent renewables and creating a bridge to other clean energy technologies like green hydrogen. We are tackling climate change directly today and will do for the next 60 years to come.”

Enec said the Barakah Plant continues to set new benchmarks for new build nuclear programmes. The cumulative knowledge and expertise developed by the team that constructed units 1 and 2 have been used to complete construction for unit 3, whilst ensuring the highest standards of safety and quality. Unit 3 of the Barakah Plant has already successfully completed a number of individual and combined system tests, including Cold Hydrostatic Testing (CHT), the Structural Integrity Test (SIT), and Integrated Leak Rate Test (ILRT), and the Hot Functional Test as part of the first phase of its Initial Testing Programme (ITP).

The ITP aims to ensure that the unit’s systems operate in accordance with the highest industry standards and will continue to do so during the operation of the plant over the coming decades. Prior to granting approval buy issuing an operating licence  for unit 3, FANR is carrying out detailed inspections and reviews of all aspects of the plant and the operating organisation.

Construction of the $20 billion Barakah NPP began in 2011 after South Korea won a tender for the project in 2009. Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco) led the consortium that is building the plant comprising four APR1400 reactors. Construction of unit 1 began in July 2012, unit 2 in May 2013, unit 3 in September 2014 and unit 4 in September 2015.

Photo: Unit 3 at the Barakah nuclear power plant has been completed (Photo credit: ENEC)