Enec said the start-up of Unit 1, one of four Generation III+ APR1400 at the $24bn facility, marks the first time that the reactor has safely produced heat, which is used to create steam, turning a turbine to generate electricity.
After several weeks and numerous safety tests, Unit 1 will be ready to connect to the UAE’s electricity grid, delivering the first megawatts of electricity to the UAE. Testing has been undertaken with the continued oversight of the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), and follows the World Association of Nuclear Operator’s (WANO) completion of a pre startup review in January 2020.
Construction of Unit 1 began in July 2012 and the operating licence was issued by FANR in February. Fuel loading was completed in March.
“This step is the most historic milestone to date in the delivery of the UAE peaceful nuclear energy programme, as part of the process towards generating clean electricity for the nation for at least the next 60 years,” Enec said in a statement.
Enec said that before the startup, Nawah Energy, the joint venture nuclear operations and maintenance subsidiary of Enec and Kepco, had been progressing through a comprehensive testing programme.
Once the unit is connected to the grid, operators will continue with a process of gradually raising the power levels, known as power ascension testing. Throughout, the systems of Unit 1 are continuously monitored and tested as the unit proceeds towards full electricity production.
All four units at Barakah are being supplied by main contractor and joint venture partner Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco). Each unit is 1,345 MW with a total net installed capacity for the station of 5,380 MW.
The UAE says the Barakah station is “significantly contributing” to its efforts to move towards the electrification of its energy sector and the decarbonisation of electricity production.
Enec recently announced the construction completion of Unit 2, with operational readiness preparations now underway. Construction of Units 3 and 4 is in the final stages, with the overall construction completion of the four units now standing at 94%.