UAE President, Korean President join celebrations of Unit 3 completion at Barakah Plant

President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Yoon Suk Yeol, President of the Republic of Korea, visited the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant today to celebrate the completion of Unit 3 and witness the continued progress of the plant, located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The Presidential visit comes in line with efforts to build on the existing Special Strategic Partnership between the UAE and South Korea with the recent signing of a number of government-level agreements.

The two leaders praised the exceptional achievements marked throughout more than a decade at the Barakah Plant, the first civil nuclear energy plant in the Arab World and the largest source of clean electricity in the region.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and President Yoon toured the Barakah Plant, which generates clean, zero-emissions electricity, sustainably powering the UAE. The two leaders witnessed the ongoing operation of Units 1 and 2, the completion of Unit 3 and the progress made on Unit 4 in accelerating the UAE’s clean energy transition, generating the 24/7 the carbon-free baseload electricity the UAE requires to complement its renewable projects in order to realise the UAE’s commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050.

During the visit, the leaders met with the teams working at Barakah, including Emirati and Korean nuclear energy experts working side by side with specialists from across the globe. More than 50 nationalities are working at Barakah, which once fully operational, will provide up to 25 percent of the UAE's electricity needs without generating any carbon emissions, while freeing up an equivalent of billions worth of natural gas resources.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed praised the efforts of the Emirati and Korean experts that have worked over the past decade to develop the Barakah Plant in accordance with the highest standards of safety and best practices in the nuclear energy industry. As a result, the Barakah Plant has become a role model for new nuclear energy projects around the world, generating strategically important clean energy for the UAE.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed said that the special strategic partnership between the UAE and the Republic of Korea has brought significant benefits to both countries, enabling bilateral cooperation in a number of key sectors including nuclear energy. The collaboration plays a vital role in supporting international efforts to deliver global energy security and drive sustainable development – critical priorities for all nations given the current parallel challenges of the energy security crisis and climate change emergency.

“The relationship between the UAE and the Republic of Korea has been continuously strengthened through the decade-long collaboration in developing the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant. In 2009, the UAE prioritised energy security while in parallel accelerating a rapid transition to cleaner energy sources through the use of civil nuclear energy. I am proud of the Emirati, Korean and international teams working together at Barakah, as they complete another Unit to strengthen the UAE’s clean electricity portfolio and set the global benchmark for nuclear energy project delivery,” His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed added.

The two leaders praised initial progress on the recently launched Net Zero Acceleration Programme, which builds on both nations’ mutual interest in increasing cooperation in the energy sector, as well as and their proven track record in delivering complex energy megaprojects. Through the programme, the two countries will work together to identify and develop projects contributing to Net Zero in both countries and globally. They will leverage areas of competitive advantage to deliver lower-cost, Net Zero infrastructure across the entire spectrum of technologies required for a successful clean energy transition.

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol highlighted in his speech “the Barakah nuclear fleet, which has two units in operation and the other two soon to be operational, holds great, monumental significance as it represents the special strategic partnership between the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Korea. Building on the success that we have achieved jointly as partners at Barakah and capitalising on Team Korea’s excellent nuclear technology and experience, now is the time for us to further our partnership to a greater height delivering additional cooperation in the UAE and making headway into third country nuclear markets together. I hope that my visit marks a watershed for our comprehensive and strategic energy partnership that would extend beyond nuclear to areas including hydrogen, renewables and carbon capture and storage.”

The UAE and South Korea have had close ties for 40 years. In 2009, the UAE awarded the Prime Contract for the construction of the Barakah plant to Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO), which during the peak of construction was the largest nuclear energy project globally. The relationship formed the basis of a new era of partnership in 2016, when ENEC and KEPCO signed a Joint Venture agreement to support the sustainable operations of the Barakah Plant over the coming 60 years of operations and beyond. The relationship was further strengthened through the elevation of the bilateral relationship to the level of a Special Strategic Partnership in 2018, and now the UAE and Korea have extended their partnership via a framework to spearhead clean energy development domestically and internationally, bringing economic and environmental benefits through the export of new projects, the use of advanced technologies such as SMRs, and clean hydrogen production.

Once fully operational, the Barakah Plant will provide abundant clean and reliable electricity 24/7 to power the UAE’s industries and over half a million homes, as well as supporting the UAE’s strategy for becoming a net-exporter of LNG by 2030. As the Nation looks forward to hosting COP28, the Barakah Plant is preventing millions of tons of carbon emissions annually whilst helping to meet the growing demand for energy.

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