The first nuclear reactor in the UAE, Barakah unit 1 has been reported by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) to have reached full capacity and is not generating 1400 MW of electricity. The Korean-designed unit operated by Nawah Energy Company is now the single largest power generator in the United Arab Emirates and is due to begin commercial operations in early 2021. The APR-1400 nuclear reactor is one of the four reactors that are being constructed at the Barakah site in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. Construction of the first unit of the first nuclear reactor to be built in the UAE began eight years ago and was completed in 2018.
The reactor became operational in July of this year, and was connected to the grid in August. The unit has been undergoing power ascension testing, under the oversight of the UAE’s national nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation. Several tests are now to be carried out by the Nawah Energy company before the unit is shut down in preparation for the “check outage”; this is when the unit’s systems will be examined, and any planned or corrective maintenance carried out, before the start of commercial operations.
The Barakah nuclear power plant is being built by a group of companies led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation. The second unit of the plant was completed in July of 2020, and units 3 and 4 are now 93% and 87% complete, respectively. When fully operational, the four-unit plant will provide around 25% of the entire kingdom’s electricity and prevent the release of up to 21 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, according to reports by ENEC. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi stated that “unit 1 marks a new era for the power sector and the future of the clean carbon economy of the nation, with the largest source of electricity now being generated without any emissions.”