The increase in electricity production capacity comes over a month after the Nawah Energy Company connected the first of four reactors to the UAE national electricity grid.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
UAE residents and visitors would now enjoy more of clean energy as the Unit 1 reactor of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in Abu Dhabi has increased its electricity production capacity to 50 per cent.
The increase in electricity production capacity that ensures more the zero emission of carbon and other harmful elements, comes over a month after the Nawah Energy Company (Nawah) connected the first of four reactors to the UAE National electricity grid on Aug.19. Nawah is the licensed operator of the first nuclear power plant not only in the UAE but across the 22-nation Arab World, being built by an international coalition led by the Korea Electric Power Corporation since 2012.
The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), in-charge of the country’s peaceful nuclear energy programme, announced the full operation of the Unit 1 reactor on Aug.1, after having passed all the mandatory requirements and assessments by the independent Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the UAE’s nuclear energy programme watchdog.
It was ENEC chief executive officer (CEO) Mohamed Al Hammadi who announced the “milestone achievement” on Tuesday through the virtual “UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme: The Journey” on the sidelines of the Sept.21 to 25 “64th Annual Regular Session of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) General Conference” held in Vienna, Austria, the international body’s headquarters.
The UAE delegation at the conference was led by UAE Permanent Representative to the IAEA Hamad Al Kaabi and which also includes FANR director general Christer Viktorsson and Nawah chief executive officer Engr. Ali Al Hammadi.
The UAE has been a member of the IAEA since the 1970s. With its Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, situated on the coast of the Arabian Gulf in the capital’s Gharbiya Region, it becomes the 34th country to own and operate a nuclear power plant chiefly to harness clean, safe and secure energy derived from mined uranium deposits as an answer to the spiking demands for electricity consumption brought about by population growth and the challenges of climate change.
Meanwhile, from the sideline event, IAEA director General Rafael Marciano Grossi congratulated the UAE for its first achievement on its Nuclear Energy Programme. He said the UAE, as a “newcomer,” serves as an inspiration to future nuclear energy-using countries with its determination and focused approach; not only astutely following time-tested global standards, but also being proactive in enhancing these. He assured that IAEA would always be a partner of the UAE in its chosen clean energy pathway.
On the 50 per cent increased electricity production capacity of the Unit 1 reactor, ENEC’s Al Hammadi said: “The UAE is now producing clean, baseload electricity through Unit 1 of the Barakah Plant and the Unit has now achieved 50 per cent power as part of the Power Ascension Testing our teams at Nawah are undertaking. Safety and quality-led progress is continuing to be made across all four units of the plant.”
“We are delighted to participate at the IAEA General Conference to share the latest updates with our industry partners on the strategies of the clean energy infrastructure programme of the UAE,” he also said.
Nawah’s Al Hammadi said that as of Sept.22 (Tuesday), the construction of Unit 2 to 4 reactors is “94 per cent complete with Unit 2 complete and Unit 3 and Unit 4 at 93 per cent and 86 per cent, respectively.”
With Viktorsson, both Al Hammadis highlighted the significance of continually building up the capacity and capabilities of human resources through continuing learning education combined with up-to-date trainings and workshops both in the UAE and abroad. They acknowledged the huge contributions and expertise of other nuclear energy scientists from other countries.
Viktorsson said majority of the 250 FANR personnel are Emiratis. ENEC’s Al Hammadi mentioned of the continuing encouragement they are doing for university students to consider being in the nuclear energy sphere. Nawah’s Al Hammadi said more than 30 Emiratis — with three of them women — had been certified as qualified and licensed nuclear power plant operators by the FANR.
The decision to issue the Operating Licence is a culmination of efforts made by FANR since it received the Operating Licence Application from ENEC, on behalf of Nawah, in 2015 for Units 1 and 2.
It will deliver 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity with zero carbon emissions while also supporting economic diversification by creating thousands of high-value jobs through the establishment of a sustainable local nuclear energy industry and supply chain.
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed visited the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, to witness the significant safety-led progress being made on the Arab World’s first peaceful nuclear energy plant, which is a key driver of the UAE’s transition to a new clean energy era, and supporting the diversification of energy sources.
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