Today, the United Arab Emirates move towards nuclear energy which has an important role to play in the nation’s future, says ENEC CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi.
A joint project between UAE and South Korea has brought to the completion of Barakah’s first nuclear reactor, reports The National. Other works in progress are 4 units, which are still under construction. Nonetheless, the announcement about unit one was made at a ceremony in Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi, which was attended by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in.
“Shaikh Mohammad said that the completion of Barakah nuclear power plant is a historic achievement for the UAE…” He added this project is a momentous occasion in the UAE’s journey of building up its peaceful nuclear program that plays a supporting role in the nation’s growth through its energy sector and diversification. The project that will shape the UAE’s energy future was possible through a strong partnership between Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO)
So why is the UAE tapping into nuclear energy? Well, to support their growing power needs.
The nuclear energy sector brings challenges and opportunities: public perception and acceptability of nuclear technology and services is an issue as well as the environmental and health risks associated with radioactive material or in connection with the heightened concerns regarding nuclear safety; the country, however, has a demand for energy increases and a need to diversify the UAE’s energy economy to lessen reliance on fossil fuels. Getting away from carbon it would be hard without a nuclear program, many believe.
In fact, as told Arabian Business, there are to be four power plant stations which are in construction; one which is the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, situated a few hours and nearly 300 kilometres west from the centre of Abu Dhabi, in the Dhafrah region, which is undergoing pre-operational tests in order to receive an operating licence from the UAE’s nuclear regulator, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). It will be the Arab world’s first commercial nuclear reactor in the Middle East outside Iran, reports World Nuclear News.
Barakah was chosen as the site to build four APR-1400 nuclear reactors (see infographic) which is said to be the most advanced in the world, with a design life of 60 years, and worth US$20 billion as noted in the project’s bid. With construction of Unit 1 complete, the project now shifts on Units 2, 3 and 4 which are 92 percent, 81 percent, and 61 percent complete, respectively, Gulf News Government reported. As a whole, the entire structures of the Barakah plant was 87% complete a month ago.
Most recently, the board of directors of the Nawah Energy Company (Nawah) that will operate and maintain Units 1 to 4 at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant appointed Mark Reddemann as its new CEO. He will commence his tenure as Nawah CEO on April 1; he’s hired to lead the finishing preparations of Barakah plants’ four identical reactors.
Once completed in 2020, the sites will provide up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs; “the UAE will soon benefit from the reliable supply of clean electricity that Barakah will produce,” Agneta Rising, Director General of World Nuclear Association (WNN), said. She added the transition in using nuclear energy will ensure “a clean, secure and reliable energy future.” In fact, the reactors will provide power (5,600MW of electricity) in an environmentally friendly way, cutting out at least 21 million tons of carbon emissions annually. This helps in “enhancing our energy security, diversifying our economy, and creating employment opportunities for our people,” said Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, which hails completion of first nuclear power plant construction having declared this a milestone that is an ‘historic moment’ in UAE’s development.
“By 2020, the ENEC [an entity wholly owned by the Government of Abu Dhabi] will need approximately 2,500 employees to power the country’s nuclear energy program. In helping to operate the UAE’s first nuclear energy plant, there is an immediate opening for a Nuclear R & D Director (Job Ref. JB1100000278 -Expiry Date: Apr 06, 2018) to fill a vacancy that will collaborate and promote ENEC and UAE Nuclear Program and establish relationships with potential scientific partners. To apply, go to https://careers.enec.gov.ae/en/login/. For students, there’s ENEC’s scholarship program that is a unique initiative that sets learners on a path to joining UAE’s nuclear energy industry, which relies strongly on a skilled and knowledgeable workforce, as a qualified technician or engineer.