Unit 3 of the Barakah Plant 1-1677246318614
The third reactor at the UAE’s Barakah Nuclear Power Plant has commenced commercial operations Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The third reactor at the UAE’s Barakah Nuclear Power Plant has commenced commercial operations, plant owner Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced on Friday (February 24).

The new milestone has been reached during the UAE’s Year of Sustainability. The commercial operations of Unit 3 adds a further 1,400 megawatts of zero-carbon emission electricity capacity, and represents the third unit to be delivered in three consecutive years.

Clean electricity

In total, production from Units 1, 2 and 3, all of which are now commercially operational, ensure the delivery of 4,200 megawatts of baseload, reliable, clean electricity to the UAE grid around the clock. The plant is located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra region.

Unit 3 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant-1677246316369
The third reactor at the UAE’s Barakah Nuclear Power Plant has commenced commercial operations Image Credit: Supplied

Past learning

According to a press release sent by ENEC, teams at Barakah — which is operated by ENEC’s operational and maintenance subsidiary the Nawah Energy Company — have reduced the time taken to move from Fuel Load to Commercial Operations by four months for Unit 3 compared to Unit 2, and by more than five months compared to Unit 1.

“This demonstrates how the operations’ teams have utilised and implemented the experience gained from the previous two reactors, while continuing to adhere to all national regulations and international standards. This compliance has been confirmed by the assessments of the UAE regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO). Unit 3 has been delivered efficiently and in one of the shortest time frames compared to other third generation reactors built worldwide, demonstrating a new era for nuclear new build,” ENEC said in its statement.

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Plant nearly complete

Playing a significant role in the UAE’s clean energy transition, ENEC and its subsidiaries are now one unit away from completing the four-unit Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, and realising its commitment to deliver up to 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity demands. The first multi-unit operating plant in the Arab World, Barakah has already powered more than 80 per cent of the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s clean electricity consumption in December 2022.

“In the Year of Sustainability for the UAE, we are proud to take the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme another step forward with Unit 3 beginning commercial operations. This has been achieved less than a year after successfully starting commercial operations for Unit 2. Barakah is a successful global benchmark for other nations looking to diversify their energy portfolio during a time of international energy crises. With three units now operating commercially, we are delivering energy security, powering sustainable economic growth, driving innovation and contributing to achieve our Net Zero strategy by 2050. We look forward to showcasing just how critical nuclear is in tackling climate change, using proven solutions available today, at COP28 in the UAE in November,” said Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, ENEC managing director and chief executive officer.

Utilities support

The commercial operations of Unit 3 were commenced with the continuous support of EWEC (Emirates Water and Electricity Company) and the Abu Dhabi Transmission and Dispatch Company (TRANSCO), which ensure that the clean electricity generated at Barakah is delivered to consumers across the UAE in a safe and sustainable manner. EWEC and TRANSCO’s support in maintaining a world-class electric grid infrastructure is critical for the reliable distribution of electricity from the Barakah Plant.

“Today we celebrate an important day for the delivery of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant project with the commercial operations of Unit 3, and we reaffirm our commitment to clean electricity generation for EWEC. The sale of clean electricity further supports Abu Dhabi’s Clean Energy Certification programme, allowing more businesses to demonstrate their sustainability credentials, creating unique competitive advantage, and stimulating the growth of our Net Zero economy,” said Nasser Al Nasseri, chief executive officer of Barakah One Company, ENEC’s subsidiary in charge of representing the financial and commercial interests of the Barakah Plant project.

“This is a key achievement for Nawah, as we safely and efficiently begin commercial operations for Unit 3, in accordance with national regulations and international standards. Our highly skilled and qualified national and international experts have world-class operating experience to safely provide constant, reliable and sustainable clean electricity around the clock from three parallel operating units,” added Ali Al Hammadi, Nawah chief executive officer.

A symbol of the UAE’s development, energy security, and stability, Barakah generates thousands of high-value jobs and stimulates millions of dollars of value for local companies. It provides significant environmental benefits for the nation today, and will continue delivering value for the next 60 years and beyond. When fully operational, the plant will prevent millions of tons of annual carbon emissions — the leading cause of climate change, and will free up billions of dollars of natural gas annually that would have otherwise been used for electricity generation.