ABU DHABI – Energy security has quickly become the number one priority for nations around the world in light of current geopolitical issues resulting in rapidly rising energy prices. These increases, coupled with runaway inflation, are adding pressure to many national energy systems around the world and the impact on consumers’ cost of living is clear.
However, it is essential that we do not lose sight of our longer term challenge: climate change. The dangers of climate change are evident in many reports, and we know we have a limited window, until 2030, to take the bold steps we need to put us on the path to Net Zero by 2050. and a 1.5 degree global temperature rise. The question now is how do we stay on course with climate goals while ensuring energy security in the meantime?
The UAE has made a significant leap in supporting economic growth and addressing these two challenges through the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. The plant currently has two nuclear reactors in commercial operation, each generating up to 1,400 MW of carbon-free electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round. Barakah is one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants by installed capacity, with four APR-1400 units capable of generating up to 25% of the UAE’s electricity when fully operational, and so not only does it bolster the UAE National Energy Safety as a continuous source of electricity in the country, but it does so without generating carbon emissions, making it an optimal solution.
Indeed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has identified several pathways to limit global warming to 1.5C in the coming decades and sees nuclear generation as playing an important role in decarbonization. of the energy sector. He expects that by mid-century the majority of primary energy will come from renewables and nuclear power in most scenarios. Additionally, the International Energy Agency (IEA) states that to reach Net Zero by 2050, the world must double existing nuclear power capacity from around 400 GW to over 800 GW2.
Being clean isn’t the only advantage. The latest data shows that the UAE’s electricity demand peaks at over 15,000 MW 3 and Barakah’s four units can generate up to 5,600 MW of clean electricity around the clock, equivalent to almost 40% of this demand. With two units already operating at maximum capacity today, the UAE is making significant progress in meeting peak demand with clean and plentiful electricity from the nuclear power plant, currently the largest source of clean electricity in the Arab region today.
The Barakah plant is accelerating the UAE’s trajectory towards the Net Zero strategic initiative by 2050 through the rapid decarbonization of the electricity sector. A proven solution to climate change, the plant provides abundant and reliable clean electricity to power homes and businesses across the country. Once fully operational, the four units will generate up to 5,600 MW of clean electricity and avoid 22.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year, while bridging other clean energy technologies, such as clean hydrogen.
This clean power generation is particularly important in this region, where temperature degrees rise steadily to around 40 degrees Celsius in the summer, when air conditioning use and water desalination demand peak to ensure that people stay cool and water is available for personal use. , watering, etc.
The UAE recognized the need for clean and plentiful electricity as early as 2008, and the UAE has remained committed to developing its nuclear energy program ever since. Fast forward to today and the benefits of nuclear power are clear. In a recent milestone, Unit 1 completed a full year of commercial operation which began in April 2021 and generated over 10.5 terawatt hours of clean electricity. Unit 2 was commissioned on March 24, 2022, less than a year after Unit 1, to double the benefits nuclear energy brings to the nation. This amount will be further increased with the planned start of the operation process of Unit 3 in 2022.
After a year of successful operations, Unit 1 has undergone a successful refueling and maintenance shutdown – a planned activity that occurs approximately every 12 months. The process involved shutting down the reactor, implementing more than 8,000 planned maintenance activities, and replacing approximately one-third of the fuel assemblies in the reactor core, with the remaining fuel reconfigured for optimal operation. Unit 1 has now restarted and restarted to run at full power for another carbon free year. Unit 2 continued to operate normally throughout this period, providing clean electricity to the nation.
Barakah crews have completed the fuel loading of Unit 3, after receiving the operating license from the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Authority (FANR), which will authorize the subsidiary to operation and maintenance of ENEC, Nawah Energy Company, to begin operation. Unity phase for the next 60 years. After completion of the fuel load, the operations team will begin preparations for the start-up of Unit 3, using lessons learned from the same process on Unit 1 in 2020 and Unit 2 in 2021 Meanwhile, major construction activities are complete at Unit 4.
By 2030, the Barakah plant will contribute 25% of the UAE’s international emission reduction commitments, making it a critical part of the national Net Zero strategy by 2050.