The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has announced that Unit One of the Barakah nuclear energy plant has begun commercial operations.

Located in the Al Dhafra region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the plant has four APR-1400 units.

ENEC’s operating and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, successfully started commercial operations of the plant’s first unit.

The 1400MW unit will deliver sustainable electricity constantly, to be supplied to the national grid.

Abu Dhabi Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that the development was a significant milestone in the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) vision for sustainable, knowledge-based economic prosperity.

ENEC chairman Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak said: “The UAE set a clear roadmap with solid principles to ensure this project was developed in accordance with the highest international industry standards of safety and quality with full transparency.

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“Our investment in pioneering technologies and the decarbonisation of our electricity production not only advances the UAE’s clean energy leadership, but also produces tangible socioeconomic and environmental benefits.”

ENEC CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi said: “After more than a decade of strategic planning, program development and construction, today we are confidently marking the start of a new chapter in the UAE’s transition to cleaner energy sources.

“The Barakah Plant uses a proven technology for significantly reducing carbon emissions to tackle climate change, one of the biggest challenges the world has ever faced.”

ENEC plans to begin the other three units at the nuclear power plant.

The plant’s second unit is scheduled to become operational later this year, while construction works for the third and fourth units are in the final stages.

The Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC) will receive the clean energy generated by the power plant under a power purchase agreement (PPA) signed in 2016 by ENEC’s subsidiary, Barakah One Company.

In May, Al Hammadi said that the Covid-19 pandemic had not impeded development at the facility, with none of its 700 employees having tested positive for the virus.