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UAE started one of four reactors in August

Country is first GCC nation to use nuclear energy for power generation

Once all reactors are operational, they would meet up to 25% of country's power needs

Dubai — The UAE's first nuclear reactor has built up its electricity production to half of capacity after linking to the OPEC producer's electricity grid in August as the country seeks to meet up to 25% of its power needs from nuclear energy.

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Nawah Energy Co., the operating and maintenance unit of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp., announced the boost in nuclear energy production Sept. 22, state-run WAM news agency reported.

OPEC's third largest oil producer started the first of four units at the Barakah nuclear power plant in August as part of plans to diversify its energy mix, lower its carbon emissions and free up natural gas used for power generation for export. The UAE is the first country in the six-member Gulf Cooperation council to use nuclear energy for power generation. The other GCC members are Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Construction of the Barakah plant as a whole is 94% complete, ENEC said July 14.

Once all four units at Barakah are operational, they will produce 5.6 GW of nuclear energy, meeting up to 25% of the country's power needs.

The UAE may in the future construct four more nuclear power plants, depending on the country's needs, ENEC's CEO said Sept. 17

"We designed Barakah for eight units," Mohamed al-Hammadi, CEO of ENEC, told a webcast organized by the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency on Sept. 17. "The government decision — whenever we decide to go beyond the four — that depends on the energy strategy. The government does every 10 years a comprehensive review of the energy policy."

The UAE plans to generate half of its energy mix from clean and renewable energy, including nuclear power, by 2050.