Mohamed Al Hammadi CEO, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC)
IN THE UAE, NUCLEAR ENERGY WILL TRANSFORM OUR FUTURE
When we design a roadmap to a sustainable future, we rarely think of electricity grids. Yet, electricity – and energy in general – make contemporary life possible.
Indeed, electricity powers many facets of our modern lifestyles, and it is integral to a more sustainable future, enabling transportation, technologies and other sectors to become cleaner and better performing. Therefore, if the world is truly serious about solving its greatest modern-day challenges, we must chart a path towards solving energy poverty, while in parallel, decarbonising the electricity sector.
We rarely think about it when we have it, but access to safe, reliable, and abundant energy has been the main driver throughout history for continuous growth. As civilisations evolved their engineering capabilities, and with this their ability to identify, access and harness different forms of energy, they enabled sustained economic development, progress, improved standards of living, wellbeing and health, as well as innovation.
The electricity sector plays a strategic role in the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. If we are able to provide clean electricity in a safe, reliable, commercially viable and sustainable manner to humanity, we change the rules of the game: we enable a new era.
By providing clean electricity to those without access, we would be able to provide opportunity to millions of people around the world and lift them out of poverty. The world needs emissions-free, baseload (24/7) reliable and abundant electricity, to complement the intermittent electricity generated from renewable energy sources. So, what are the proven options that can provide safe, reliable, commercially viable and sustainable electricity? Hydropower and nuclear energy.
For countries with water scarcity, nuclear energy is one of the few proven and readyto- deploy technologies that can provide clean electricity around the clock.
In the UAE, we firmly believe that nuclear energy can and must play a significant role in transforming our future. It enables electrification, decarbonisation and diversification, supporting long-term sustainable development and the expansion of a nation’s industrial, technological and intellectual capacity.
The direct benefits that nuclear energy brings support a number of the UN’s SDGs. These include ensuring affordable and clean energy (7), decent work and economic growth (8), industry, innovation and infrastructure (9), sustainable cities and communities (11) and finally climate action (13).
Goals 7 and 13 are closely linked and are critical goals for ensuring a sustainable future.
As a result, nuclear energy plays a key role in the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 to cut carbon dioxide emissions, increase the contribution of clean energy, and significantly improve energy efficiency by the middle of the century. Over the last nearly decade and a half, Abu Dhabi in particular has become a catalyst for renewable energy development in the Arab world and a key driver of the global sustainability agenda.
The UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program’s Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, for example, is delivering clean, efficient and reliable electricity to the UAE grid. When fully operational, it will provide up to 25% of the Nation’s electricity needs, while in parallel preventing the release of up to 21 million tons of carbon emissions each year, equivalent to removing 3.2 million cars from the roads annually.
SDGs 8 and 9 focus on creating economic growth, developing sustainable industries and driving innovation. Nuclear energy delivers on all of these.
So far more than 2,000 UAE based companies have been awarded more than USD $4.8 billion in contracts within the local nuclear energy sector, delivering products and services for the Barakah Plant, in line with ENEC’s mission to develop a local nuclear energy industry and supply chain, which will continue throughout the 60-year lifespan of the plant.
We are committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program, as well as the nuclear energy industry internationally.
To be truly successful, we must continue to prepare the Nation’s youth to ensure a sustainable pipeline of future leaders of the industry.
Innovation for generations
As a country, we have both a tremendous responsibility and an opportunity to equip youth with the knowledge and skills to drive the growth, diversification and evolution of the energy sector, to ensure its continued and sustainable development.
Across the country, there are many initiatives that have been implemented to inspire and educate youth in countless fields. The nuclear energy sector is one of the industries that has placed significant focus on this over the years, especially as we have transitioned from construction at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant to commissioning and operations. Just recently we celebrated the start-up of Unit 1, followed by connection to the UAE transmission grid. This was the first time that clean electricity produced at the plant was delivered to the UAE national grid.
Talented UAE National engineers and nuclear energy professionals contributed to the construction and commissioning of Unit 1, as well as the numerous UAE National Reactor Operators and Senior Reactor Operators who trained for many years around the world to develop the nuclear intellect and know-how to safely operate and manage the plant, working as part of one of the industry’s most internationally diverse teams of experts.
Learn. Grow. Share.
The evidence to move the energy sector to emissions-free, proven technologies is mounting, amidst rising global concern. Yet the commitments and actions needed to slow or mitigate climate impacts are not keeping up with the global pace of emissions increases. The forest fires, storms and extreme weather conditions the planet has recently experienced have raised fears internationally and have increased awareness amongst the general public of this critical issue. The UAE’s proactive approach to evaluating energy options and setting a path towards a cleaner energy future is encouraging.
Today, the UAE is looking to lead the transition towards cleaner sources of energy with Abu Dhabi being the home of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant and the world’s largest single-site solar project.
However, we believe that the answer to climate change is not only found in proven technologies. It lies with people. Access to the facts on energy is critical for making informed choices, and communities must have a clear understanding of the opportunities and limitations of the various forms of energy we have available to us.
As a result, we are committed to showcasing how nuclear energy can contribute to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and engaging with the general public to highlight how nuclear energy is supporting the future growth and prosperity of our nation through the production of emissions-free, reliable around the clock electricity for the next 60 years and beyond, as part of a robust, long-term and sustainable energy portfolio.