UAE begins commercial operations of S. Korean-built No. 2 nuclear reactor

SEOUL-- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has started commercial operations at the second unit of the South Korean-built Barakah nuclear power plant, the country's nuclear energy corporation and South Korea's state-run utility firm said Thursday.

The start of the commercial operations came about a year after the Middle Eastern country issued an operating license and began a process to insert fuel rods into the reactor, according to the Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO).

It is one of the four nuclear reactors built in Barakah, 270 kilometers west of Abu Dhabi, under a US$20 billion contract won by a KEPCO-led consortium in 2009. The project marked South Korea's first export of a homegrown commercial atomic power plant.

The first Barakah unit began commercial operations in April 2021.

The Unit 2 will add 1,400 megawatts of zero-carbon emission electricity to the UAE's grid, bringing the total produced by the two units to 2,800 megawatts, according to the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC).

UAE's Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the operation in a tweet, calling it "historical achievement."

Units 3 and 4 are in the final stages of commissioning, with the construction of Unit 3 being completed last year and the fourth one in the final stages of construction.

When the four units are in commercial operation, the Barakah plant will produce up to 25 percent of the UAE's electricity needs and will prevent about 22.4 million tons of carbon emissions annually, according to the ENEC.

Source: Yonhap News Agency