Abu Dhabi: The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi is sustaining the UAE’s economic growth by ensuring energy security and is also allowing the nation to stay on track with its climate goals, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said today.
As of July 6, the plant has generated more than 14,000 kilowatt-hour of clean electricity and prevented the emission of more than 6,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a counter showed on ENEC’s website. ENEC is the plant’s owner and it operates and maintains the facility through its subsidiary, the Nawah Energy Company.
Located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra region, Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant currently has two commercially operating nuclear reactors, each generating up to 1,400 megawatts of zero-carbon electricity 24x7, all year around. Barakah is one of the largest nuclear energy plants in the world in terms of installed capacity, with four APR-1400 Units capable of generating up to 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity once fully operational.
“Not only does it bolster the UAE’s national energy security as a source of in-country continuous electricity, but it does so without generating any carbon emissions, making it an optimal solution. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has identified several pathways to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the coming decades, and sees nuclear generation as playing an important role in decarbonising the energy sector. It expects that by mid-century, the majority of primary energy will come from renewables and nuclear energy in most scenarios,” ENEC said.
‘Accelerating UAE’s Net Zero by 2050’
The latest data also shows that the UAE’s electricity demand peaks at more than 15,000 megawatts and the four units at Barakah can generate up to 5,600 megawatts of clean electricity round the clock, which is equivalent to almost 40 per cent of this demand.
‘Single largest source of clean electricity’
“With two units already operating at maximum capacity today, the UAE is making significant headway in meeting peak demand with clean, abundant electricity from the nuclear plant, which is the single largest source of clean electricity in the Arab region today. The Barakah Plant is therefore accelerating UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 initiative through the rapid decarbonisation of the power sector,” ENEC said.
When all four units are fully operational, the clean electricity generated will prevent 22.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually. This is particularly important in the Gulf region, where the temperature regularly rises to more than 40 degrees Celsius in the summer. During this time, usage of air-conditioning and the demand for water desalination peaks to ensure an optimal lifestyle.
Unit 1 completed a full year of commercial operations in April this year and generated more than 10.5 terawatt hours of clean electricity. Unit 2 achieved commercial operations on March 24, 2022, less than a year after Unit 1, to double the benefits that nuclear energy brings to the nation. This will be increased further with the expected start of the operations process at Unit 3 in 2022.
Following a year of successful operations, Unit 1 underwent a successful refuelling and maintenance outage — a scheduled activity that takes place every 12 months or so. The process involved shutting down the reactor, implementing more than 8,000 planned maintenance activities and replacing about a third of the fuel assembles in the reactor core, with the remaining fuel re-configured for optimal operations. Unit 1 has now restarted and is powered up to run at full power for another year with zero carbon emissions. Unit 2 continued to operate normally throughout, delivering clean electricity to the nation.
“The teams at Barakah have completed the Unit 3 Fuel Load, after the receipt of the Operating Licence from the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), which will authorise Nawah to commence operation phase of the Unit for the next 60 years. Following the completion of the fuel load, the operations team will begin preparations for start-up of Unit 3, utilising the lessons learned from the same process with Unit 1 in 2020 and Unit 2 in 2021. Meanwhile, the major construction activities are completed at Unit 4,” ENEC added.