Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s decision to build its first nuclear plant over a decade ago has proven to be a vital move, particularly during a time when many countries experienced energy shortages. With an annual capacity increase of 1400 MW of round-the-clock electricity and zero emissions, the nuclear plant has marked a significant achievement for both the UAE’s energy security and sustainability.
The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant’s Unit 2 has prevented over 5,000 kilotons of carbon emissions and generated 10,402 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of clean electricity since commencing commercial operations in March 2022.
The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant’s Unit 2 has made a significant contribution to addressing the increasing electricity demand in Abu Dhabi and the UAE, facilitating the decarbonization of the power sector in the country. Furthermore, it has accelerated the UAE’s journey towards achieving the target of Net Zero emissions by 2050.
The process comprises multiple steps, including shutting down the reactor, carrying out over 8,000 planned maintenance activities, and replacing approximately one-third of the fuel assemblies in the reactor core. Additionally, the remaining fuel will be reconfigured to ensure optimal operations.
Following the completion of maintenance activities, Unit 2 has resumed operations and is currently running at full power, 24/7, with zero carbon emissions for another year. Meanwhile, Units 1 and 3 have been operating normally, providing clean electricity to the nation during this time.
Upon completion of all four units, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is expected to fulfil up to 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity requirements, providing clean electricity to power nearly 574,000 homes. Additionally, it will aid the UAE’s goal of becoming a net exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2030 by substituting local gas consumption with nuclear-generated clean electricity. This move is expected to redirect approximately $4 billion worth of natural gas annually, freeing it up for other energy needs or international export.
As Dubai gears up to host COP28 this November 2023, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant stands out as a successful model for tackling climate change. The plant’s establishment is the outcome of a meticulously planned, data-driven strategy that is now yielding significant dividends for the nation.
After becoming fully operational, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is poised to prevent millions of tons of carbon emissions each year, while also serving as a bridge to other clean energy technologies such as clean hydrogen. Moreover, the plant is expected to boost the growth of the Net Zero economy. In addition to its significant contribution to clean electricity generation, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is also serving as a catalyst for the development of new clean energy technologies.
These include the development of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and next-generation reactors, as well as the production of clean molecules such as steam, hydrogen, and ammonia, along with heat. These clean energy solutions are essential for decarbonizing hard-to-abate sectors like shipping, aviation, and heavy industries.