Second Barakah unit connected to the grid

14 September 2021

Unit 2 at the Barakah nuclear power plant in the UAE has today begun supplying electricity to the country's power grid, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced. The milestone was reached five months after unit 1 of the plant, in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, entered commercial operation.

Barakah unit 2 (Image: KEPCO)

ENEC said its operations and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, had safely and successfully connected the unit to the UAE grid, delivering the first megawatts of carbon-free electricity from the second of four units at the Barakah plant. It said during the grid connection process, the unit 2 generator was integrated and synchronised with the requirements of the UAE's national electricity transmission grid.

The UAE's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) issued an operating licence for Barakah 2 to Nawah in March, with fuel loading beginning soon after. The unit achieved first criticality - an initial sustained chain reaction - on 27 August.

ENEC said the cumulative knowledge and expertise developed by the operations teams on unit 1 has been used to connect unit 2 to the grid more efficiently, with a 10% reduction in the time between start-up and connection.

The connection of unit 2 to the grid follows the successful completion of numerous safety tests conducted after the start-up of the plant, and with the continued oversight of FANR, ENEC said. Nuclear operators will now begin the process of gradually raising the power levels of Barakah 2's reactor, known as power ascension testing. ENEC said that throughout this process, the unit 2 systems follow international best practice to safely progress and test the unit as it proceeds towards full electricity production. This testing will be conducted under the continued oversight of FANR.

Under a USD20 billion deal announced in December 2009, four Korean-designed APR1400 reactors are being built at Barakah by a consortium led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation. First concrete for Barakah 1 was poured in July 2012, while that for units 2-4 was poured in April 2013, September 2014 and July 2015, respectively.

Units 3 and 4 are in the final stages of commissioning at 95% and 91% completion, respectively. The construction of the plant as a whole is now more than 96% complete. When fully operational, the plant will produce 5.6 gigawatts of carbon-free electricity for more than 60 years to come.

Clean energy ambitions

ENEC said the grid connection of unit 2 brings it "another step closer to the half-way mark of its goal to supply up to a quarter of the country's electricity needs 24/7, while driving reductions in carbon emissions - the leading cause of climate change."

UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei welcomed the start of electricity supply by Barakah 2, saying it contributes to achieving the goals of the UAE's Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to increase the share of clean energy in the total energy mix to 50%.

"We are proud of this new milestone accomplished within the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme," Al Mazrouei said. "The Barakah nuclear energy plant plays a pivotal role in achieving the UAE's goals of diversifying energy sources, increasing the share of clean energy resources and supporting economic and social development, as well as meeting the UAE's objectives and international commitments to address the challenges of climate change.

"The Barakah plant contributes to consolidating the UAE's leading role in the regional and global energy sectors, as the plant is now the largest single generator of electricity in the Arab world. It is also the largest contributor to reducing carbon emissions in the region; positioning the UAE as the first Arab country to have a multi-unit nuclear energy plant in operation."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News