Barakah is the first nuclear power plant built in the UAE. Credit: Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.
The construction of the first unit of Barakah nuclear power plant was completed in May 2018. Credit: Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.
Barakah nuclear power plant will have a capacity of 5.6GW. Credit: Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.
Barakah will feature four nuclear reactors. Credit: Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.

The 5,600MW Barakah nuclear power plant (NPP) in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is the first nuclear power project in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Located 53km from the city of Ruwais, the plant is being jointly developed by Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

Nawah Energy Company, a joint venture between ENEC and KEPCO, is the operator of the plant, which will include four units.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the $32bn project, which will include four units of 1,400MW each, was held in March 2011.

The construction of unit 1 began in July 2012, following the receipt of a construction licence from the Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation (FANR). The construction was completed in May 2018.

The plant successfully completed fuel assembly loading into unit one in March 2020, marking the commissioning of nuclear operations.

The Barakah nuclear power plant is expected to deliver up to a quarter of the nation’s electricity needs when fully commissioned. It will offset approximately 21 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

Nuclear reactors at Barakah power plant

The Barakah nuclear power plant is equipped with APR1400 nuclear reactor technology, which was developed by the Korean nuclear industry under the leadership of KEPCO.

The reactor design is based on the System 80+, which is certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the US.

The reactor is licensed by the Korean nuclear safety regulator, the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS), and is expected to have a lifespan of 60 years.

Reactor technology

The Advanced Power Reactor 1400 MW (APR-1400) is an advanced pressurised water nuclear reactor designed by the Korea Electric Power company. It is an upgraded version of OPR1000, the Optimum Power Reactor 1000MW, the first standard pressurised water reactor (PWR) plant in Korea.

“The Barakah nuclear power plant is expected to deliver up to a quarter of the nation’s electricity needs when fully commissioned.”

The APR1400, a Generation-III+ reactor, consists of advanced features such as direct vessel injection from the safety injection system, passive flow regulation device in the safety injection tank, in-containment refuelling water supply system and systems for severe accident mitigation and management.

The reactor features two steam generators that transfer the heat of 4,000MW from the reactor coolant system to the secondary system, producing steam to drive the turbine-generator that will produce a net electrical power of 1,400MW.

The plant’s reactors have been adapted to suit the climatic conditions of UAE. The reactors have larger pumps, plant cooling and seawater intake systems, improved ventilation and a more refined intake screen design. The plant is designed to withstand earthquakes of a 7.0 magnitude or higher on the Richter scale.

Barakah nuclear power plant construction

The construction began on the UAE’s first nuclear power plant with the laying of the first nuclear safety concrete for unit 1 in July 2012.

ENEC installed the condenser in February 2014 and the first reactor vessel (RV) in May 2014. The construction of the reactor containment building (RCB) began in July 2012 with the fabrication of the basement. The construction of the RCB concrete dome was completed in January 2015.

The construction of unit 2 began in May 2013, while that of unit 3 began in September 2014. The first concrete pouring of unit 4 took place in September 2015.

The main concrete works and heavy lifting for units 2, 3 and 4 were completed by November 2018.

The plant is in the final stages of construction of the remaining three units, with the construction progress at more than 93% as of March 2020.

The construction of unit 2 is over 95% complete, unit 4 is more than 83% and unit 3 is over 91% complete.

The next step of operating the nuclear power plant is the power ascension testing (PAT) process, which will involve safe and gradual testing of the first unit system to begin full electricity production.

Fuel supply for UAE’s first nuclear power plant

ENEC signed supply contracts with Areva and Techsnabexport (Tenex) for the supply of uranium concentrates along with providing conversion and enrichment services.

Uranium One and Rio Tinto were contracted for the supply of natural uranium for the plant. ConverDyn will provide conversion services, while Urenco will provide enrichment services.

The enriched uranium will be supplied to Kepco Nuclear Fuels for manufacturing the fuel assemblies for use at the Barakah nuclear plant.

Barakah plant financing

The Barakah nuclear power project is being financed through a $16.2bn direct loan from the Abu Dhabi Government and a $2.5bn loan facility from the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM).

Contractors involved in UAE’s nuclear power plant

ENEC awarded a $20.4bn contract to the consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) for the design, construction and operation of four APR1400 nuclear power units at the Barakah NPP in December 2009.

The consortium includes Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), Hyundai, Samsung, Doosan, Korea Power Engineering Company (KOPEC), Korea Nuclear Fuel (KNF) and Korea Plant Service and Engineering (KPS).

KHNP is in charge of the operating support services and cooperative businesses, while KEPCO Engineering and Construction (KEPCO E&C) was awarded the subcontract for providing plant design, architecture and engineering works.

Doosan was entrusted with the construction and management of the nuclear steam supply system (NSSS), steam generator and other related components. Hyundai and Samsung are responsible for the civil engineering works, while Westinghouse is providing technical assistance and licence-related works. KNF will supply nuclear fuel, which will be maintained by KPS.

Hilal Bil Badi and Partners Contracting (HILALCO), a local company, was contracted for developing critical water intake structures for the project. The reinforced concrete structures will provide cooling water for the turbine condensers and heat exchangers in the turbine generator building.

Bechtel provided design and project management support services to KEPCO E&C, a subsidiary of KEPCO.

Nawah Energy Company signed a long-term operation and maintenance (O&M) agreement with EDF for the Barakah nuclear power plant in November 2018.

Barakah nuclear energy plant maintenance

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) and KEPCO Plant Service & Engineering were awarded a long-term maintenance contract for the Barakah nuclear energy plant in June 2019. KHNP also operates and maintains South Korea’s Shin Kori nuclear power plant units 3 and 4.

Nawah also signed a maintenance service agreement with DHIC, a subsidiary of Doosan, in the same month.