The UAE has announced that it will “definitely” operate its first of four nuclear reactors in 2018.
“We can say that next year is definitely going to be the year for opening the first nuclear reactor, we are trying to do it as fast as possible, but at the same time we have to be 100 per cent safe, 100 per cent in accordance with all the regulators.”
During a press conference held on Monday morning in the UAE Capital, Suhail Al-Mazroui, the Minister of Energy, told reporters that the four reactors, will supply 24-25 per cent of UAE’s electricity.
The first reactor, which is 96 per cent complete, is located in the Barakah plant in Al Dhafra – the world’s largest single nuclear project.All four reactors will have the capacity of 5,600 megawatts of electricity.
The Minister said the reactors will be interlinked locally and with the GCC network.
He pointed out the International Ministerial Nuclear Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century is set to kick off in Abu Dhabi next month, which signifies UAE’s immense efforts and strategies for its peaceful and clean nuclear programme.
The UAE is the first country in the Arab world to host the conference, which begins from October 30 to November 1.
“The conference is a testimony in how important the UAE is becoming in terms of its peaceful nuclear programme, which was completed almost on time and on budget in a country that has no experience in the field of nuclear power generation.”
He said the nuclear strategy was a strategic choice for the UAE, as the world focuses on moving towards clean and renewable energy.
“We had to choose between the different options and we went with the nuclear programme that will contribute to 24-25 per cent of our base-load in 2021.”
“It will contribute to the overall target of 2050 of the 50 per cent green clean energy of which will be solar and nuclear,” added the Minister.
Al Mazroui said the UAE forecasts that the solar will be the major component, however the nuclear is “definitely one of the four basis of electricity generation by 2050.”
Around 1400 companies took part in the nuclear project and contributed around three billion USD. The total cost of the project reached USD 20 billion, (Dh 73.4 billion).
The first reactor is 96 per cent complete, while the second is 86 per cent complete, the third 76 per cent complete and the fourth is 54 per cent complete.
“For a country that never done a nuclear project, I think to be almost on time, with a six months delay, is a remarkable achievement.”
Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE Ambassador to Austria and permanent representative of the UAE to the UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he hopes next month’s conference will shed light on how countries must address the challenges associated with nuclear power.
“The role of nuclear power today is significant, it provides almost 11 per cent of the world electricity, we have almost 449 reactors around the world and more than 30 countries are planning to expand their programmes.”
He said it is also crucial to recognise the role of nuclear power when it comes to contributing to sustainable development, clean energy and to the wellbeing of future generations to come.
Communities concerned about nuclear plants have been addressed
The Minister of Energy, who is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fedra Electricity and Water Authority and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Mubadala Petroleum Co., said regulators have addressed concerned community members of the Western Region about the safety of the nuclear plant, and whether or not they are “comfortable with such a nuclear plant.”
“Since 2008, we have spoken to communities about the technology and its safety, and we continuously update them with the project.”
“We have received an acceptance level of around 80 per cent of the community on how comfortable they are on having these plants where they are.”
He said there are no current plans to build more reactors, as the UAE is now focusing on completing all four nuclear reactors by 2021.
“With the 2050 vision, the UAE is the first country in the region to have a clearly planned out strategy of clean energy for the future, and perhaps the first country in the world. We have planned to revise our nuclear strategy every five years,” added the Minister.
He highlighted that the UAE has already achieved a milestone in its ambition to clean energy – by generating 75 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.
The UAE has launched the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world, which was recently announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
[Source: Khaleej Times, Sept. 25, 2017]