The start-up of Unit 1 marks the first time that the reactor safely produces heat, which is used to create steam, turning a turbine to generate electricity.
This step is the most historic milestone to date in the delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme, as part of the process towards generating clean electricity for the Nation for at least the next 60 years.
Since receipt of the operating licence from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulations (FANR) in February and the completion of fuel assembly loading in March, has been safely progressing through a comprehensive testing programme, prior to successfully completing the start-up of the first nuclear energy reactor of the Barakah plant.
Nawah, a joint venture between nuclear operations and maintenance subsidiary of Enec and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), said its qualified and licensed team of nuclear operators focus on safely controlling the process and controlling the power output of the reactor.
After several weeks and conducting numerous safety tests, Unit 1 will be ready to connect to the UAE’s electricity grid, delivering the first megawatts of clean electricity to the homes and businesses of the Nation, it stated.
Testing has been undertaken with the continued oversight of FANR and follows the World Association of Nuclear Operator’s (Wano) completion of a pre start-up review in January, prior to receipt of the operating licence, which ensures Unit 1 is aligned with international best practice in the nuclear energy industry.
Enec CEO Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi said: "Today is a truly historic moment for the UAE. It is the culmination of more than a decade of vision, strategic planning and robust program management. Despite the recent global challenges, our team has demonstrated outstanding resilience and commitment to the safe delivery of Unit 1."
"We are now another step closer to achieving our goal of supplying up to a quarter of our Nation’s electricity needs and powering its future growth with safe, reliable, and emissions-free electricity," he noted.
"Through the realization of the vision of our leadership, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has become an engine of growth for the nation. It will deliver 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity with zero carbon emissions," stated Al Hammadi.
Also it will support economic diversification by creating thousands of high-value jobs through the establishment of a sustainable local nuclear energy industry and supply chain," he added.
Commenting on the key milestone, Nawah CEO Engineer Ali Al Hammadi, said: "The start-up of Unit 1 is a significant milestone for Nawah as we fulfill our mandate to operate and maintain the plant in accordance with the highest international standards of safety and quality."
"The dedication of our people as well as our close collaboration with our Korean partners and cooperation with numerous international expert organisations has enabled this accomplishment. This reflects our commitment to upholding the highest safety, quality and operational transparency standards throughout the entire commissioning and startup process by leveraging the expertise of the global nuclear industry," stated Al Hammadi.
Lauding the talented Emirati engineers and nuclear professionals for their efforts, the Nawah chief said: "UAE National Senior Reactor Operators and Reactor Operators have been certified to safely operate the plant, alongside our international experts, to ensure the safe and sustainable operations of the unit for decades to come."
The UAE is the first country in the Arab World, and the 33rd nation globally, to develop a nuclear energy plant to generate safe, clean, and reliable baseload electricity, he noted.
The Barakah plant is significantly contributing to the UAE’s efforts to move towards the electrification of its energy sector, and the decarbonisation of electricity production.
When fully operational, the plant will produce 5.6 gigawatts of electricity while preventing the release of more than 21 million tons of carbon emissions every year, equivalent to the removal of 3.2 million cars from the Nation’s roads annually, he added.
Enec had recently announced the construction completion of Unit 2, with operational readiness preparations now underway by Nawah.
Construction of Units 3 and 4 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is in the final stages, with the overall construction completion of the four units now standing at 94 percent, it added.
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