ABU DHABI - The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and its subsidiaries celebrated the 10th anniversary of the construction of the first peaceful nuclear power plant in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, which made the United Arab Emirates the first in the Arab world to use nuclear energy technology to produce environmentally friendly electric power.
The UAE has taken a proactive approach to the challenges facing the world with regard to climate change and energy security, as this approach includes investing on a large scale in nuclear energy and environmentally friendly energy sources for more than a decade.
The results of this approach appeared today, which were represented in supporting the country's efforts to confront the phenomenon of climate change, in addition to providing distinctive competitive opportunities for local companies by obtaining environmentally friendly energy certificates, in addition to supporting the fields of research, development and innovation.
In its report marking the momentous occasion, ENEC noted that it is not every day that people have the chance to be part of the inception, development and completion of a nation-defining major strategic project.
But in the United Arab Emirates, vision and dedication combined with the execution of world-class initiatives lead to remarkable achievements spanning energy, aviation, advanced technology, space exploration and more. These successes have become the hallmark of a country that is rapidly solidifying its global position as a leader across many forward-thinking industries and sectors.
One of the most prominent examples of this is the development of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme and its flagship project: the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant. A sustainable powerhouse for the UAE, the Plant has been recognised for its project management excellence, setting a benchmark for the world in how to rapidly transition to Net Zero while bolstering the nation’s energy security.
Only three years after the issuance of the decree in 2009 that established ENEC by the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the start of concrete pouring at the site of the Barakah Plant, in the Al Dhafra Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, marked the official start of construction work at Unit 1 of the Plant, the first nuclear energy plant in the UAE and the Arab world.
On 18th July 2012, the empty site of the Barakah Plant, marked out with simple flags, was the beginning of a project that has become a symbol of national pride and vision. It marked the start of the development of a new era in clean energy in the UAE, and with each construction milestone that followed, the realisation of the UAE’s clean energy ambitions grew.
"Our dedicated team completed the main concrete pouring of Unit 1 of the Barakah Plant during the holy month of Ramadan, and despite this time, we didn’t seem to notice any impacts of fasting as we were so focused on getting the work done safely and to the highest standards," said Ali Al Mansoori, who is currently Head of Major Assets, at ENEC’s maintenance and operations subsidiary Nawah Energy Company.
"I am proud to have witnessed all the stages of the development of the Barakah Plant, from the beginning of construction to commercial operations of Unit 1 and Unit 2. I am honoured to have been part of this megaproject from the start, which is now producing abundant clean electricity and helping our Nation advance closer to achieving Net Zero by 2050. It is an unbelievable feeling of pride to have a role in the development of a project of this scale at Barakah, which has had a historic impact by all measures," he added.
A resident of the Al Dhafra Region, the home of Barakah, Ali Al Mansoori reflects on the history of the region and what it represents today. "The region where the Barakah Plant is located was once a landmark for the first Bedouins to find routes and paths in the open desert. Today, Barakah has become a landmark of a new kind. It is home to one of the world’s largest nuclear plants in the world and a global model and benchmark for countries seeking to launch new peaceful nuclear energy programs that provide real solutions for climate change through rapid decarbonisation."
Ahmad Al Jaziri, Long Term Projects Strategic Manager, at Barakah, was also among hundreds of talented Emiratis who played a key role in the start of construction work at Unit 1 of the Barakah Plant more than a decade ago.
"We were very proud to be venturing down a completely new path for the country, representing the development of an unprecedented project in the Arab world. We had great confidence from day one because we had the guidance and support of our wise leadership, in addition to international organisations and experienced nations globally, and we knew we had what it takes to excel," Al-Jaziri said.
"With every milestone that was achieved at Unit 1 of Barakah, whether in terms of construction or major tests, we remained committed to working in line with national regulations and the highest international standards of quality and safety. We remained focused on the goal of completing Unit 1, until we achieved the historic moment of commercial operations for Unit 1 and the start of clean, carbon-emissions-free electricity generation for the country. We can look back today and proudly say that we completed construction and started operating the first nuclear energy plant in the history of our country and the Arab world - a true testament to the capabilities of our people."
Sultan Al Qahtani, Maintenance Support Programmes Team Leader, highlights that among the most important features of the Unit 1 journey, was the harmony between the teams from more than 50 nationalities. Every day, Emirati talents work side by side with international nuclear experts at the Barakah Plant.
"Since the beginning of the development of the Barakah Plant, we have worked with specialists from across the world. We have completed advanced training programmes in the UAE and abroad. What was impressive was the communication, collaboration and exchange of knowledge and experience between the work teams. During all phases of the development of Unit 1, from construction to operations, everyone worked with a great sense of responsibility. We were united with one goal which was to develop and implement a pioneering project that is the first of its kind in the country and the region," Al-Qahtani commented.
"There is no feeling like being part of writing a new chapter of our Nation’s history. Our work has enabled the Plant to provide clean electricity around the clock, preventing millions of tonnes of carbon emissions, and driving the achieving Net Zero by 2050. The most exciting part about all of this is that Barakah is only the beginning," he added.
Barakah is a true success story in a new sector for the UAE. It showcases the country’s leading role in the clean energy transition at the global level. The success of the Plant demonstrates the strategic vision of the UAE’s wise leadership, which has built a geopolitical asset that guarantees energy security for the next 60 years, whilst driving continued sustainable development in a world which is witnessing constant change.
And now, ENEC is poised for the next 10 years and beyond as the electricity generated allows the UAE to export gas instead of using it to generate power, as well as sustainably powering companies through clean energy certification so that they may access green financing. More broadly, ENEC is now poised to expand into other clean energy areas such as hydrogen and Small Modular Reactors, as well as support the development of other sectors in the UAE such as agriculture, space exploration and medicine.
It is a truly exciting time for the UAE’s nuclear energy sector, the report concluded.