It was all high fives at the control room for Unit 1 at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant on Saturday, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation as the unit was turned on. In practical terms, it was the first time in the Middle East that a commercial nuclear reactor was fired up for the first time.
And, in truth, it was high fives and face masks in the operating room. ENEC said the event was "historic," especially as final preparations were conducted in a time of a global pandemic. "This step is the most historic milestone to date in the delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program, as part of the process towards generating clean electricity for the Nation for at least the next 60 years," ENEC said.
The company received Unit 1's operating license from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulations (FANR) in February and completed fuel assembly loading in March of this year. Before and after turning on the unit, the reactor is subjected to a series of tests before it is connected to the grid, which is expected to occur in "several weeks."
At that point, the unit will deliver the first megawatts of clean electricity to the homes and businesses of the nation. In addition, it must be said that the Middle East is globally one of the richest areas in the world when considering crude oil reserves. This plant, in that light, is the culmination of game-changing decisions concerning the price oil, the global economy and global warming.
H.E. Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, said: “Today is a truly historic moment for the UAE. It is the culmination of more than a decade of vision, strategic planning and robust program management."
"We are now another step closer to achieving our goal of supplying up to a quarter of our Nation’s electricity needs and powering its future growth with safe, reliable, and emissions-free electricity," he said.
Once the unit is connected to the grid, the nuclear operators will continue with a process of gradually raising the power levels, known as Power Ascension Testing (PAT).
The UAE is the first country in the Arab World, and the 33rd nation globally, to develop a commercial nuclear energy plant. When fully operational, the plant will produce 5.6 gigawatts of electricity while preventing the release of more than 21 million tons of carbon emissions every year, equivalent to the removal of 3.2 million cars from the Nation’s roads annually.
The facility, in time, while include four operating reactors. ENEC recently announced the construction completion of Unit 2, with operational readiness preparations now underway by Nawah. Construction of Units 3 and 4 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is in the final stages, with the overall construction completion of the four units now standing at 94 percent.
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Great news for UAE and the international nuclear community but, just to correct, unless you don't consider Iran to be part of the Middle East, which I think most people do, then UAE is the second state in the Middle East to commission a commercial NPP. Also, even if you count Taiwan as a separate country, and that's a politically sensitive issue, I think you'll find UAE is the 32nd country to 'go nuclear', not the 33rd.
@Brian: you´r right Brian!
The NPP is one of two Blocks in Bushehr, built from Siemens(KWU) finished by Russian Rosatome in 2010.