Fuel loading begins at UAE plant

20 June 2022

Fuel loading has begun at Barakah 3 following the receipt of the unit's operating licence, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has announced. The UAE's third nuclear unit is expected to start producing electricity later this year.

Barakah 3 (Image: ENEC)

ENEC Managing Director and CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi said the project is delivering a "practical climate solution on the ground" and enabling large-scale decarbonisation efforts alongside economic growth. "The success and benefits of bringing each unit at Barakah into operation in consecutive years since unit 1 in 2020 showcase the significant benefits of developing a multi-unit nuclear energy plant in driving energy security and sustainability for nations that commit to the long-term development process of a civil nuclear programme," he said.

The UAE's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) last week announced its approval of Barakah 3's operating licence, confirming that the plant, its people, programmes, policies and procedures meet regulatory standards. In addition, the unit has undergone voluntary reviews by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) including the completion of a WANO Pre Start-Up Review confirming its readiness for operation, ENEC said.

Knowledge gained during fuel loading at Barakah unit 1 in February 2020 and unit 2 in March 2021 will be leveraged at unit 3, ENEC said. The unit's 241 fuel assemblies will be loaded into the reactor one at a time, a process expected to take around 14 days. After fuel loading is completed, the operations team will begin preparations for start-up of the unit later this year.

Ali Al Hammadi, CEO of plant operator Nawah Energy Company, said FANR's "rigorous reviews" cover every aspect of the plant to ensure its readiness to operate in line with national regulatory requirements. "Successfully passing these reviews is testament to the expertise we have developed and the outstanding operating experience of our teams, made up of highly-skilled and qualified UAE Nationals and international experts," he said.

Barakah 3 is one of four Korean-designed APR-1400 units at the site in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. Units 1 and 2, which began commercial operation in April 2021 and March of this year, respectively, are now supplying 2800 MW to the UAE's grid and unit 4 is in the final stages of commissioning prior to construction completion.

The Barakah plant is the first overseas nuclear power plant project for the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), which won the order for the plant in December 2009. Nawah is a joint nuclear operations and maintenance subsidiary of ENEC and KEPCO.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News