1st Nuclear Plant in Arab Region commissioned by UAE

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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UAE Nuclear Power Plant
Representational Image

The UAE became the first Arab country to generate nuclear energy, after declaring that Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear power plant, located in Abu Dhabi, is now operational.

The reactor’s commercial operations are scheduled to begin later this year, and will enable power companies and homes around the nation to use renewable energy.

With this milestone achievement, the UAE becomes the first country in the Arab world to build a nuclear power plant to generate safe, clean, and reliable base-load electricity. Moreover, the nation is only the 33rd country in the world to take this tremendous step. 

Unit 1 is now using nuclear fuel as part of the ‘criticality’ phase started on Saturday to produce electricity. The reactor will be connected to the power grid and will be supplying energy during the next test phase.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid
Vice President and Ruler of Dubai

“Today we announce the UAE’s success in operating the first peaceful nuclear reactor in the Arab world at Barakah Nuclear Plant Abu Dhabi. The goal is to operate four nuclear power plants. Our message to the world is that the Arabs are able to resume their scientific ambitions and compete with the rest of the great nations. Nothing is impossible.”

Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and UAE Armed Forces Deputy Supreme Commander, congratulated the teams, calling the achievement a proud moment.

Describing the moment as historic, Mohamed Al Hammadi, chief executive of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, said, “Through the realization of the vision of our leadership, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has become an engine of growth for the Nation. It will deliver 25% of the UAE’s electricity with zero carbon emissions while also supporting economic diversification by creating thousands of high-value jobs through the establishment of a sustainable local nuclear energy industry and supply chain.”

He thanked the leaders of the UAE and the South Korean partners from Enec for their engagement and support.

Soon the plant will supply ample base-load electricity at full capacity over the course of several months that can fuel growth of the UAE in the decades to come. Moreover, it will also limit the emission of 21 million tons of carbon dioxide per year which is equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars each year from the roads.

Most of the country’s electricity currently comes from gas-fired power projects, and some from solar fields. 

It was in 2008 that UAE announced its plans to undertake a nuclear energy program and the related development took more than a decade to complete.

Korea Electric Power Corporation, who has a long term relationship with the UAE is the prime contractor and joint venture partner of the project. 

The station is located in the Al Dhafra region, 280 kilometers away from the capital and consists of four units that will supply a total of 5,600 megawatts of energy and 94% of the total power plant is already finished. Reactors 1 and 2 are finished, while 92% of the third one is completed and 85% the fourth is also completed.