UAE: Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant completes Unit 3 start-up

Next key milestone would be to connect Unit 3 to the national electricity grid

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A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 6:30 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Sep 2022, 7:38 PM

Authorities have successfully started up Unit 3 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has announced. The milestone shows the significant progress being made in activating the four units of Arab World’s first multi-unit operational nuclear plant.

Unit 3, once commercially operational, will add another 1,400 megawatts of zero-carbon emission electricity capacity to the national grid, a major boost for UAE energy security, and a major step forward in tackling climate change.

The achievement comes one year after Unit 2’s successful start-up. The next key milestone would be to connect Unit 3 to the national electricity grid in the “coming weeks”.

The announcement comes at a time when many countries are looking to mitigate shortages as a result of the global energy crisis. Authorities said the UAE’s decision to add nuclear energy to its energy mix back in 2008 is “paying dividends today”.

The clean electricity generated at Barakah is sustainably powering homes, business and high-tech industries across the UAE.

Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, managing director and chief executive officer of ENEC, said: “We have reached another major milestone in the delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme today, as we move forwards with the provision of strategically significant clean energy for the UAE. The Barakah Plant is spearheading the decarbonisation of the power sector, sustainably generating abundant electricity to meet growing demand and power growth.”

Barakah is now spearheading domestic energy security and sustainability in parallel. “The commissioning of the plant is just the beginning, with innovation and R&D now key in ensuring the realisation of the full scope of the programme,” Al Hammadi added.

Testing phase

Nawah, the operating and maintenance subsidiary of ENEC, and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) have been safely progressing through a comprehensive testing programme.

Testing was undertaken under the “continued oversight” of the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). It follows the World Association of Nuclear Operators’ (WANO) completion of a Pre-Start-Up Review (PSUR), prior to receipt of the Operating Licence.

Ali Al Hammadi, chief executive officer of Nawah, said: “Today is another momentous occasion for the Barakah Plant, and we are already increasing power in the reactor, generating more heat and preparing for the delivery of the first megawatts of clean electricity to the grid, in accordance with national regulations and international standards.

“We look forward to the upcoming connection of Unit 3 to the national electricity grid as we work to deliver up to 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity demand.”

How it works

Start-up is the first time Unit 3 has produced heat through nuclear fission. The heat is used to create steam, turning a turbine to generate electricity. Making use of the experience gained in the start-up of Units 1 and 2, the qualified and licensed team of nuclear operators conducted numerous safety tests after safely loading fuel into the reactor earlier this year.


Unit 4 is in the final stages of commissioning prior to completion of construction.

Barakah Plant is an essential component of the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 Strategy. The plant is a catalyst for innovation in the clean energy transition, including SMR development and next generation reactors, and a bridge to other clean fuels like hydrogen.

When fully operational, the plant will prevent 22.4 million tons of carbon emissions — the leading cause of climate change — every year.

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