UAE: Barakah nuclear plant's Unit 3 begins commercial operations

The first multi-unit operating plant in the Arab world, Barakah, has already powered more than 80 per cent of Abu Dhabi's clean electricity consumption in December 2022

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Published: Fri 24 Feb 2023, 12:20 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Feb 2023, 11:29 AM

The third reactor of the UAE's Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has started its commercial operations, it was announced on Friday. This means more clean, emissions-free electricity is now being delivered to homes and offices in the country.

This major accomplishment adds 1,400 megawatts (MW) of zero-carbon-emission electricity, boosting Barakah's total production to 4,200MW for the UAE national grid.

The first multi-unit operating plant in the Arab world, Barakah has already powered more than 80 per cent of Abu Dhabi's clean electricity consumption in December 2022.

Unit 3 of the Barakah Plant has completed the process from Fuel Load to Commercial Operations more than four months faster than Unit 2 and more than five months faster than Unit 1. It is the third unit delivered in three consecutive years.

This shows how the operations teams utilised the experience and learnings from running the previous two units, while adhering to all national regulations and international standards, as confirmed by assessments of the UAE regulator FANR and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (Wano).

Unit 3 has been delivered efficiently and in one of the shortest time-frames compared to other third-generation reactors built worldwide, demonstrating a new era for nuclear new-build.

“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. 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,” said Christer Viktorsson, Director-General, Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).

Since issuing the operating licence in June last year for Unit 3, the FANR has continued its regulatory oversight: starting with fuel loading, testing, the criticality phase, connecting the unit to the UAE national electricity transmission grid until the plant is ready for full commercial operation.

FANR confirmed that Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), the operator, has met all regulatory requirements to initiate this important phase. The milestone follows extensive oversight, including regular inspection and oversight, to ensure the safety and security of the nuclear power plant.

One unit away from completion

Enec and its subsidiaries are now one unit away from completing the four-unit Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant and realising its commitment to deliver up to 25 percent of the UAE's electricity demands.

Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, managing director and CEO of Enec, said: "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. 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 achieving 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."


Today, Barakah represents just 20 per cent of the wider UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme, with Enec investing in research and development, and innovation to further accelerate the opportunities within the country's clean energy transition. This includes major opportunities in clean electricity exports, development of Net Zero molecules, including clean hydrogen and ammonia, and steam, in addition to overseas investments and financing of new clean energy projects.

A powerhouse for the nation's development, energy security and stability, the plant generates thousands of high-value jobs and stimulates millions of dollars worth businesses for local companies.

Barakah provides significant environmental benefits for the nation today, and for the next 60 years and beyond. When fully operational, the plant will prevent 22.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions – the leading cause of climate change – every year, and will free up billions of dirhams worth of natural gas annually.

Oversight, inspections

Following the issuance of the operating licence until the commercial operation, FANR’s oversight activities included regular inspection using its resident inspectors as well as deploying inspectors to oversee the testing processes.

“FANR will continue to inspect the oversight activities for the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant during the operation phase to ensure all requirements are met.”

FANR is continuously verifying the emergency preparedness and response system as well as monitoring the environment through independent monitoring stations around the nuclear power plant.

“FANR is proud to have Emirati nuclear experts who played a crucial role in the licensing process and oversight of the nuclear power plant since its inception: carrying out inspection in matters related to nuclear safety, nuclear security and nuclear non-proliferation. We are proud that over 74 per cent of FANR’s workforce are Emiratis. I congratulate the UAE government and its leadership for such an achievement,” added Viktorsson.

The Barakah plant is located in Al Dhafra. The plant’s four APR1400 design nuclear reactors will supply up to 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity needs once fully operational. As of today, Units 1, 2 and 3 are commercially operational. FANR is also assessing the operating license application for Unit 4. And if all regulatory norms are met, the license is expected to be issued by the end of the year.

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