Unit 4 of the Barakah Plant Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) on Friday announced that its operating and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, has successfully started up the reactor of Unit 4 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant (Barakah Plant), the largest single source of clean electricity in the UAE and wider Arab World.

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Commenting on the start-up of the Unit 4, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Al Dhafra Region, said: “The UAE, day after day, continues to consolidate its global leadership position in the clean energy sector, through the strategies it sets - as the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to set a Net Zero by 2050 target, through the international collaborative agreements it has signed - as one of the first countries to sign on Paris Agreement and now one of the leading nations for deploying new nuclear programmes."

He added: "Today, the Barakah Plant is the largest source of clean electricity and the largest contributor to decarbonisation in the region, which, once fully operational, will meet up to 25 percent of the UAE’s nationally determined contribution in accordance with the Paris Agreement.”

The start-up of Unit 4 at the Barakah Plant 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 link to the national electricity grid, entering a testing phase to gradually increase its power output to full capacity.

Once the testing is complete and commercial operations begin, Unit 4 will take the total capacity of the Barakah Plant to 5,600 megawatts of zero-carbon emission electricity to meet 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity demand. The Plant will also contribute to a quarter of the country’s carbon-reduction commitments, known as the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the United Nation’s Paris Agreement to meet global climate change goals.

Ahead of schedule

ENEC has delivered the four units of the Barakah Plant within an accelerated delivery timeline. Barakah is the first multiunit operational nuclear plant in the Arab world, with the operational teams starting up a unit every year since 2020. The Barakah Plant uses four APR-1400 pressurised water reactors capable of each producing up to 1,400 megawatts of clean electricity.

Each Unit has been started up more efficiently than the previous unit, as institutional knowledge and experience are 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.

Mohamed Al Hammadi, Managing Director and CEO of ENEC, said: “The start-up of the fourth unit of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is a significant achievement as we now enter into a new era to deliver the full promise of the Barakah Plant. In the past five years, the UAE has added more clean electricity per capita than any other nation globally, with 75 per cent coming solely from the Barakah Plant, demonstrating how pivotal nuclear energy is in decarbonising the country’s power sector.”