UAE's first reactor starts supplying power

19 August 2020

Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear power plant in the Al Dhafrah region of Abu Dhabi has been connected to the grid and has begun supplying electricity to the UAE. The South Korean-supplied APR1400 is expected to enter full commercial operation later this year.

Barakah unit 1 is the first nuclear power reactor in the Arab world (Image: ENEC)

Following the receipt of an operating licence in February and the completion of fuel assembly loading in March, Barakah unit 1 was started up at the end of July by Nawah Energy Company, the operations and maintenance subsidiary of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC). Since then, the operations team has run a series of tests, steadily increasing the unit's power levels.

In partnership with the Abu Dhabi Transmission and Despatch Company (Transco), a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, the generator of Barakah unit 1 has now been integrated and synchronised with the requirements of the UAE's national electricity transmission grid. Transco constructed 952 kilometres of 400 kV overhead lines to connect the Barakah plant to the Abu Dhabi electricity grid.

With the integration and connection complete, nuclear operators will begin the process of gradually raising unit 1's power levels, known as power ascension testing. ENEC said that throughout this process, the unit 1 systems follow international best practice to safely progress and test the unit as it proceeds towards full electricity production.

"The safe and successful connection of unit 1 to the UAE grid marks the key moment when we begin to deliver on our mission to power the growth of the nation by supplying clean electricity, around the clock," said ENEC CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi. "Grid connection of unit 1 really is the beginning of a new era in our project, which is built upon years of preparation and adherence to the highest international safety and quality standards. We are confident in our people and our technology to continue to progress to reach commercial operations, and the completion of the remaining three units, with the goal to power up to 25% of the UAE's electricity needs for at least the next 60 years.

"This project, in addition to the UAE's efforts made in implementing other forms of clean power generation, delivers one of the most ambitious clean electricity transformations in the region and the world, setting the nation on a new track of sustainable development and electrification," Al Hammadi added.

Agneta Rising, director general of World Nuclear Association, said: "This is a great achievement for all those working at Barakah. Today the UAE joins the growing list of countries choosing nuclear energy as part of their commitment to a cleaner and more sustainable future. What the UAE has learned and achieved should be repeated around the world so that more people can benefit from the value and benefits that nuclear energy offers."

ENEC recently announced it had completed the construction of unit 2, with operational readiness preparations now under way by Nawah. Construction of units 3 and 4 of the plant is now 93% and 86% complete, respectively, with the overall construction completion of the four units now standing at 94%.

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.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News