UAE switches on the ‘first nuclear power station of the Arab world’

This is the first out of four nuclear reactors, which once operational are estimated to produce 25% of national demand

A new nuclear power station, which is thought to be the ‘first’ of the Arab world, has been switched on in Abu Dhabi after the successful start of the first reactor.

The Barakah nuclear energy plant will consist of four reactors, which once fully operational, are forecast to produce 5.6GW of electricity, which is approximately 25% of the country’s electricity needs.

The low carbon power generation is expected to lead to a reduction of 21 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, which is equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars from the country’s roads every year.

The engineers of the station started operations by producing heat inside the reactor in order to generate steam.

This, in turn, rotated the turbine to produce electricity.

Image: ENEC

The Nawat Power Company, which was formed by the coalition of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and the Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) received the green light to operate the first station in February 2020 and completed the loading of fuel packages at the plant reactor in March 2020.

Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, CEO of ENEC, said: “Without a doubt, this is a historic moment for the United Arab Emirates, which culminated in more than a decade of ambitious vision, strategic planning and tight management of the UAE peaceful nuclear programme.”

Image: ENEC

Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), commented: “Congratulations UAE for achieving the first criticality of Unit 1 of Barakah NPP. The IAEA supports and other countries that opt for introducing nuclear power, which plays a key role in achieving clean & affordable energy and in tackling climate change.”

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