The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, ENEC, on Wednesday announced that its operations and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Transmission and Despatch Company, TRANSCO - a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi National Energy Company - has safely and successfully connected Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant to the UAE grid, and is despatching its first megawatts of clean electricity to the Nation.
During the process, the generator in Unit 1 was integrated and synchronized with the requirements of the UAE’s national electricity transmission grid.
Unit 1 connection, also referred to as ‘grid synchronisation’, marks the first time that clean electricity produced at the plant is delivered to the UAE national grid. This follows the safe and successful start-up of Unit 1 at the end of July 2020 by Nawah. Since then, the operations team has run a series of tests, steadily increasing the power levels to ultimately generate the first megawatts of baseload electricity produced by the Barakah plant, located in the Al Dhafrah Region of Abu Dhabi.
With clean electricity from peaceful nuclear energy now being delivered to homes and business across the UAE, this milestone is a significant moment in the continued safe, secure, and quality-led delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme and its cornerstone, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant.
Commenting on the announcement, Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, said, "The safe and successful connection of Unit 1 to the UAE grid marks the key moment when we begin to deliver on our mission to power the growth of the nation by supplying clean electricity, around the clock. Grid connection of Unit 1 really is the beginning of a new era in our project, which is built upon years of preparation and adherence to the highest international safety and quality standards.
"We are confident in our people and our technology to continue to progress to reach commercial operations, and the completion of the remaining three units, with the goal to power up to 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity needs for at least the next 60 years. This project, in addition to the UAE’s efforts made in implementing other forms of clean power generation, delivers one of the most ambitious clean electricity transformations in the region and the world, setting the Nation on a new track of sustainable development and electrification."
He added, "The successful delivery of electricity to the nation is the result of strong and sustained collaboration with our local and international partners. We extend our full appreciation to TRANSCO, and our Prime Contractor and Joint Venture partner, the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), as well as the many other UAE-based stakeholders and numerous international nuclear organisations who have worked closely with us over the past decade. Their experience, and that of the wider global nuclear energy industry, has supported our adherence and commitment to ensuring the highest safety, quality, security, transparency, and non-proliferation standards throughout the development of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme."
TRANSCO’s role in this effort is both critical and extensive, having constructed 952 kilometres of 400 kV overhead lines to connect the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant Unit 1 to the Abu Dhabi electricity grid – ensuring the power generated at Barakah is safely, securely and reliably delivered to consumers across the UAE.
For his part, Dr. Afif Saif Al Yafei, Chief Executive Officer of TRANSCO, commented, "TRANSCO plays an important role in facilitating a more sustainable energy future for the UAE. As the country forges ahead with utility-scale clean energy projects, TRANSCO continues to ensure these projects can effectively integrate with our existing network infrastructure to provide a secure and stable supply of power to the community. The integration of Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is an important step towards increasing clean energy generation capacity to the grid.
"TRANSCO is proud to have partnered with ENEC and its operation and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah, on such an important project for the UAE, and we look forward to advancing our partnership for the next stages of the project," Dr. Al Yafei added.
With the integration and connection complete, Unit 1’s nuclear operators will begin the process of gradually raising the power levels, known as Power Ascension Testing, PAT. Throughout this process, the Unit 1 systems follow international best practice to safely progress and test the unit as it proceeds towards full electricity production. Once the process is completed, Unit 1 will deliver, at full capacity, abundant baseload electricity to power the growth and prosperity of the UAE for decades to come.
This testing will be conducted under the continued oversight of the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, FANR, which has now conducted more than 280 inspections since the start of Barakah’s development. This is in addition to over 40 missions and assessments by the International Atomic Energy Agency and World Association of Nuclear Operators.
Al Hammadi concluded by saying, "I am especially proud of the talented UAE National engineers and nuclear professionals who contributed to the construction and commissioning of Unit 1, as well as the UAE National Reactor Operators and Senior Reactor Operators who have trained for many years across the world and today have the nuclear intellect and know-how to safely manage the plant, to reach the key milestone to power the growth of the UAE with safe, clean and reliable electricity to the UAE grid, working alongside our international experts."
Electricity is the fastest growing form of energy worldwide, as it is increasingly used to power different aspects of our lives and the economy. The Barakah plant is supporting electrification and the decarbonisation of the UAE’s energy sector while also advancing economic diversification by creating thousands of high-value jobs through the establishment of a sustainable local nuclear energy industry and supply chain.
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 are in their final stages, with Unit 3 being at 93 percent completion, Unit 4 at 86 percent completion, and the overall construction completion of the four units now standing at 94 percent.