Third Barakah unit begins commercial operation

24 February 2023

The third unit at the UAE's nuclear power plant has been declared in commercial operation, less than a year after Barakah 2 reached the same milestone.

Barakah unit 3 is now in commercial operation (Image: ENEC)

"Marking the UAE's Year of Sustainability and increasing its contribution to achieving the nation's Net Zero by 2050 targets, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has announced that its operating and maintenance subsidiary Nawah Energy Company (Nawah) has commenced commercial operations of Unit 3 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, located in the Al Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi," ENEC said. "As the third unit to be delivered in three consecutive years, this major accomplishment adds a further 1,400 megawatts of zero-carbon emission electricity capacity, boosting total production from Units 1, 2 and 3 of Barakah to up to 4,200 MW of baseload, reliable, clean electricity 24/7 to the grid."

Barakah's operations teams were able to shorten the time taken to reach commercial operations after fuel loading by using their experiences from the first two units, ENEC said: this took four months less for Barakah 3 than it did for unit 2, and more than five months less compared with unit 1.

"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," said ENEC Managing Director and CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi. "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."

The UAE's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) confirmed that Nawah has met all regulatory requirements for commercial operation to begin.

"The commercial operation of Unit 3 of Barakah Nuclear Power Plant is another major achievement which is the result of significant efforts made over the past years since the establishment of the UAE Nuclear Energy Programme," FANR Director General Christer Viktorsson said. "During that period, FANR reviewed the nuclear power plant in terms of site selection, construction, testing and finally operation to ensure the operator complies with all regulatory requirements to ensure the safety of the public and the environment.  FANR will continue to inspect the oversight activities for the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant during the operation phase to ensure all requirements are met."

Work to construct four Korean-designed APR-1400 units at Barakah began in 2012. The first unit started up and was connected to the grid in August 2020 and began commercial operation in April 2021; unit 2 was grid-connected in September 2021 and began commercial operation in March 2022. The three units at the plant already provided more than 80% of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi's clean electricity consumption in December 2022, ENEC said, and when complete, the four-unit plant is expected to meet up to 25% of the UAE's electricity demand.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News