Fourth Barakah unit receives operating licence

17 November 2023

The United Arab Emirates' nuclear regulator has issued the licence to Nawah Energy Company, clearing the way for commissioning and commercial operation of the unit and marking a historic moment as the UAE realises its nuclear energy vision.

Hamad Al Kaabi (on the left) and Christer Viktorsson announced the issuance of Barakah 4's operating licence on 17 November (Image: FANR)

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) said it had reached its decision to issue the licence after conducting a thorough assessment of the application documentation, conducting robust regulatory oversight and inspections in the areas of safety, security and safeguards. It also assessed Nawah's organisational and manpower readiness, and ensured that Nawah was in compliance with all regulatory requirements.

Construction of the fourth Korean-designed APR-1400 unit at Barakah, in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi Emirate began in July 2015, three years after work began on the first Barakah unit. The first three units are now fully operational under FANR's regulatory oversight.

The UAE embarked on its plan to implement a nuclear energy programme in 2008 when its government made the decision to build and operate a nuclear power plant to provide 25% of the country's electricity needs, diversifying its energy sources and supporting its long-term energy vision and net zero goals. Construction of the first unit began in 2012, and Barakah 1 was connected to the grid in 2020.

"Today marks a historic moment for the UAE, where it realised its vision that started 15 years ago in developing the-first-in-the-region peaceful nuclear energy programme," Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency and deputy chairman of FANR's Board of Management said. "The success of the UAE Nuclear Energy Programme and the ability to deliver it within a record span of time, adhering to the best international nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation standards, made the country a role model for many nations who are embarking on developing a nuclear energy programmes."

Barakah 4 (Image: FANR)

FANR has certified 215 Reactor Operators and Senior Reactor Operators - including 78 who are Emiratis - who are qualified to operate the control rooms of the nuclear power plant, FANR Director General Christer Viktorsson said.

"The review of the operating licence application for Unit 4 was conducted by a team consisting of 90% Emirati nuclear experts. This indicates the success of FANR's strategy in building the capability and skills of Emiratis to regulate the nuclear sector and ensure its safe operation," he added.

Nawah can now begin the commissioning phase to prepare for commercial operation, during which FANR will carry out around-the-clock inspection at the plant to ensure the nuclear fuel load and testing processes are completed according to regulatory requirements, Viktorsson said. When the plant enters commercial operation the regulator will assume an oversight role.

The Barakah plant is owned by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and operated by Nawah. Barakah 4's operating licence has a duration of 60 years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News