Viewpoint: The Global Impact of Barakah: Perspectives


April 07, 2021

The UAE has shown that it is possible to build a new civilian nuclear power program from scratch in just over a decade. Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, describes the importance of this feat for the global nuclear industry.

Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Image: ENEC)

“This week, the United Arab Emirates celebrated the completion of commercial operation of the first of four APR-1400 reactors. This is a step in the right direction for the decarbonization of our electricity sector, as well as a significant increase in energy security and sustainability, but more importantly, it’s a signal to the entire nuclear power industry of what’s possible.

A little over ten years ago, the United Arab Emirates made a firm commitment to become the first Arab country to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program. It did so by setting a new global standard for new construction and new nuclear projects in operation. Today, carrying out commercial operations in a new nuclear country is a very positive step for an industry that needs more plants, projects and production. This proves that large-scale nuclear projects with international partners and commercial finance are achievable to the highest standards. As a result, our success may encourage other nations to view nuclear power as one of the few technologies capable of reducing emissions and thus fighting climate change.

While the pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption in all aspects of society, business and industry, it has also clarified the need for a more sustainable future and an opportunity for those who wish to lead the way. For the energy sector, COVID-19 has highlighted the need for future power systems that are not only sustainable, but also resilient.

For decades, nuclear power has demonstrated its ability to be the cornerstone of a modern, resilient and clean energy system. It has also been the cornerstone of scientific research and development, enabling space exploration, medical breakthroughs and new food security processes. During the recent pandemic, nuclear power continued to provide base load and clean electricity during all lockdowns; feed hospitals and research laboratories to help us get through the crisis.

Thanks to the culture of nuclear safety, as well as the dedication, professionalism and international collaboration of nuclear professionals, all nuclear power plants around the world continued to operate, as we shared lessons learned on how best to operate. protect our people and our sites. Operators and regulators have continued to ensure the safety and security of factories around the world, even as the pandemic has affected them in a variety of ways, including their planned shutdowns and maintenance schedules.

Therefore, we believe that achieving commercial operation of a new reactor is a major milestone for ENEC and the United Arab Emirates, and an important culmination for the entire global nuclear industry. The world needs more nuclear power if it is to truly meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, and the world needs to learn more from our unique safety culture and our ability to continuously improve our performance.

Nuclear power was the world’s second largest source of low-carbon electricity in 2019 after hydropower. With electricity demand now the fastest growing source of final demand, evidenced by an expected 3% growth in global electricity demand in 2021, nuclear power will remain a key contributor to sustaining economic growth and greening the post-pandemic recovery.

To date, more than 440 nuclear reactors are operating in 32 countries around the world, providing one-third of the world’s low-carbon electricity. Another 50 nuclear power plants are currently under construction and will contribute to clean and sustainable electricity production in the future. The reality is that if we are serious about reducing emissions from the power sector to a material level, we need more civilian nuclear power.

In the United Arab Emirates, we now have clean and abundant electricity powered by nuclear power. With the first unit at the Barakah nuclear power plant starting commercial operations this week, the country has entered a new era of clean electricity generation.

Operating at 100% of its power, the unit is now the largest source of electricity in the United Arab Emirates. And once its four units are fully operational, Barakah will be the 7th largest nuclear power plant in the world. It will serve a national population of just under 10 million and provide up to 25% of the country’s electricity needs for the next 60 years. Add to that the current and future pipeline of large-scale renewable power plants that the UAE will be commissioning in the years to come, and you have one of the world’s greatest power sector decarbonization success stories. .

In the post-COVID 19 era, we must celebrate any positive milestones that consolidate the role of the nuclear power industry. Today we share our celebration of the commercial operation of our first unit in Barakah with all players in the global nuclear industry. It is a step in the right direction for the production of clean electricity, supporting economic growth, job creation, innovation and, most importantly, providing a proven solution to climate change for a more sustainable and sustainable world. resilient. “


About Hector Hedgepeth

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