The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has successfully completed the construction of Unit 2 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the Arab World’s first nuclear energy plant located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. The unit has now been officially handed to Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), ENEC’s operating and maintenance subsidiary, for operational readiness activities.
With the achievement of this strategic milestone, Unit 2 has cleared its construction phase and the focus now shifts to completing the operational readiness preparations, testing, regulatory inspections, and international assessments required for Nawah to obtain the Operating Licence for Unit 2 from the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).
This accomplishment was preceded by the successful completion of Hot Functional Testing (HFT) in August of 2018, and the successful completion of Structural Integrity Testing (SIT) and Integrated Leak Rate Testing (ILRT) in March 2019. The advanced tests demonstrated Unit 2’s exemplary structural safety performance and ensured that its systems and components will reliably and safely perform their intended functions when operational.
Mohamed Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC said: "The completion of Unit 2 construction activities in adherence to the highest international standards of safety, security and quality, and the handover of all systems to Nawah for commissioning are important milestones that reflect the dedication and skill of everyone involved in the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program. These achievements also highlight the benefits of building four identical reactors simultaneously, as the lessons learned during the construction of Unit 1 have contributed to the successful development of Units 2, 3 and 4 of the Barakah Plant."
"These milestones at Unit 2 are also a further testament to the vision and commitment of the UAE’s leadership in the transition to clean energy sources in the region, and our successful collaboration with KEPCO as our Prime Contractor and Joint Venture partner. The UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program is an engine of social, academic and economic growth for the nation, by enhancing our energy security, diversifying our economy, and creating high-value careers opportunities for UAE Nationals. Today we are one step closer to securing a cleaner, brighter future for generations to come," added Al Hammadi.
Unit 2 of the Barakah Plant has already successfully completed a number of individual and combined system tests, including Cold Hydrostatic Testing (CHT), the Structural Integrity Test (SIT), and Integrated Leak Rate Test (ILRT) as part of the first phase of its Initial Testing Program (ITP). The ITP aims to ensure that the Unit’s systems operate in accordance with the highest industry standards and will continue to do so during the operation of the plant over the coming decades.
In addition to the ITP, ENEC, KEPCO, and Nawah are conducting a comprehensive review program in preparation for operations to ensure that the people who will operate and maintain the plant also meet the highest standards of competence and readiness.
As per UAE Nuclear Law, the construction and operation of nuclear energy plants are subject to regulation by FANR, and once Nawah staff have confirmed that the plant, its people and related programs, processes and procedures are all ready, they will seek the approval of FANR to begin the loading of the first nuclear fuel assemblies and commencement of the start-up of Unit 2.
Prior to granting such approval via the issuance of the Operating License for Unit 2, FANR is carrying out detailed inspections and reviews of all aspects of the plant and the operating organization.
In addition to FANR’s extensive review process, and in line with the commitments made by the UAE in 2008 to adhere to the highest standards of safety, security, quality, non-proliferation and operational transparency, Unit 2 and its operating team are undergoing a number of assessments by independent international nuclear energy experts from the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).
In parallel to the above activities and despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, ENEC continues to successfully complete the construction of Barakah Units 3 and 4, which are benefitting from the experience and lessons learned during the construction of Units 1 and 2.
The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is one of the largest nuclear energy new build projects in the world, with four APR-1400 units under simultaneous construction. The APR 1400 is one of the most technologically advanced nuclear reactor designs in the world and meets the highest international standards for safety and performance. In 2019, it was certified by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The APR 1400 reactor design has robust safety systems, which ensure safe reactor shutdown, removal of decay heat, and prevention of radioactive releases.
Construction of the pant began in 2012 and has progressed steadily ever since. Construction of Units 3 and 4 are 92 percent and 85 percent complete, respectively, while the construction of the Barakah Plant as a whole is now 94 percent complete.
Once the four reactors are online, the facility will deliver clean, efficient and reliable electricity to the UAE grid for decades to come, providing around 25 percent of the country’s electricity and preventing the release of up to 21 million tons of carbon emissions annually – the equivalent of removing 3.2 million cars off the roads each year.