Barakah Nuclear Power Plant
The Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi will start producing clean electricity. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emriates (UAE) has become the first peaceful nuclear energy operator in the Arab world following fuel assembly loading in to Unit 1 reactor at Barakah nuclear plant in Abu Dhabi.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced on Tuesday the UAE has also become the first country in the Arab World to achieve this status, joining a limited group of countries worldwide that have successfully developed the intellectual and infrastructural capacity to use nuclear energy to generate safe, clean, and reliable baseload electricity.


The milestone was achieved this week, following the completion of the process to load fuel assemblies into the Unit 1 reactor, which commenced after the receipt of the Operating Licence from the UAE Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) in February.

Clearn and abundant electricity

“Our teams have been training over the years to safely progress towards providing the UAE with clean, reliable and abundant electricity to power our economic and societal growth. Today, we are very proud as the UAE joins a limited group of nations who have achieved the global standards necessary to become peaceful nuclear operating nations” said Engineer Mohamed Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC.

“We take this responsibility very seriously and our teams are safely and steadily transitioning through the sophisticated, highly-regulated process to advance Unit 1 towards full electrical generation capacity,” he added.

The fuel load was led by a team of highly-trained and FANR-certified fuel operators, with over 90% participation of Emirati experts who were previously trained in the APR-1400 technology in South Korea. This team led the transfer and load of the 241 fuel assemblies into Unit 1 which concluded earlier this week.

Al Hammadi said that ‘Barakah’ is more than an energy plant. It brings prosperity and value to the UAE with new industrial and human capacity, it significantly improves the carbon footprint and energy security of the Nation, and accelerates the decarbonisation of the power sector to contribute to alleviating global climate change.

UAE is 33rd peaceful nueclear operating nation

With Fuel Load completed, the plant is now ready to begin the next stage and the UAE becomes the 33rd peaceful nuclear operating nation to achieve this status. The next step will be for the operating teams of Nawah — the operations and maintenance subsidiary of ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) — to start operating the plant, in a process known as Power Ascension Testing (PAT), in which the systems of Unit 1 are safely and gradually tested to move into full electricity production.

As per the Prime Contract signed between ENEC and KEPCO, this process is led by KEPCO and takes the lessons learnt of the APR-1400 Korean fleet, which currently operates two APR-1400 units in South Korea at full capacity.

Highest safety standards

The PAT process is conducted in line with all regulatory requirements and the highest international standards of safety, quality and security. Once the process is completed over the course of a number of months, the plant will begin delivering abundant baseload electricity to power the growth and prosperity of the UAE for decades to come.

Peaceful nuclear energey program

Since its inception in 2009, ENEC has developed the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program in line with the principles set out in the 2008 UAE Policy on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy, for achieving the highest standards of safety, security, transparency, and non-proliferation.

Operating Licence

Nawah Energy Company began the fuel load of Unit 1 following the successful receipt of the Operating Licence from the UAE’s independent nuclear energy regulator, FANR on 17 February 2020, and completion of the Pre Start-up Review (PSUR) by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) in January 2020.

The receipt of the Operating Licence confirms that FANR is completely satisfied that the plant, people, programs, policies and procedures meet their robust standards, and that all voluntary reviews from the IAEA and WANO have been satisfied.

Construction update

ENEC is currently in the final stages of construction for the remaining three units of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. The overall construction of the four units is more than 93% complete. Unit 4 is more than 83%, Unit 3 is more than 91% and Unit 2 is more than 95%The four units at Barakah will generate up to 25% of the UAE’s electricity demand by producing 5,600MW of clean electricity, and preventing the release of 21 million tons of carbon emissions each year — the equivalent of removing 3.2 million cars off the roads annually.

Fuel loading at Barakah Nuclear Power Plant

Meanwhhile, a statement issued by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) says that the FANR has overseen loading of the nuclear fuel assemblies into the Unit 1 of Barakah Nuclear Power Plant to ensure it is completed according to the regulatory requirements.

FANR’s inspection activities indicated the fuel load has been safely completed. Furthermore, FANR will have around the clock inspection, using its resident inspectors at Barakah Nuclear Power Plant and deploying other inspectors to ensure the testing processes, following the fuel loading completion, are carried out according to requirements.

FANR is working closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safeguards Mission, who are currently visiting the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, to verify the UAE’s international commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.

Following the completion of the commissioning phase, FANR’s mission will transform into oversight role during the commercial operation of Unit 1 to ensure safety and security of the nuclear power plant as part of its mission to protect the public, workers and environment.