The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC)
, established by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE in 2009, is the organization charged with implementing the UAE’s nuclear energy program.
Although the UAE's nuclear energy program was only begun in 2009, by 2020 ENEC hopes to have four operating plants, producing 5600 megawatts
of electricity. This is estimated to meet up to 25 percent of the country’s energy needs and will also cut down the UAE's annual greenhouse gas emissions by 12 million tons.
The plants will be located at Barakah, in the Western Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, approximately 269 km west-southwest of Abu Dhabi.
The first unit is scheduled for completion in May 2017. The design for the unit, called the APR1400
, was developed in Korea and approved by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety
Regulation of the nuclear program has been handed to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation. The agency's mandate is to oversee licensing of radioactive materials and radiation used in medicine, research, oil exploration and other industries in the UAE. It also ensures that all projects comply with the standards provided by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), an international monitoring body. The UAE is one of 35 countries
that have vowed to turn international guidelines provided by the IAEA into federal law to prevent the misuse of nuclear materials.
The majority of the uranium for these new units is expected to come from Australia. The two countries signed a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
in July 2012 that could lead to annual uranium imports of around 800 tons by 2020.
In addition to the environmental benefits of reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the nuclear program is also expected to generate 2000 new jobs
UAE nationals seem to have taken well to the idea of a nuclear program.
“Clean and efficient nuclear energy is a must for the future, and the authority should conduct such awareness programs in every nook and corner of the country,” Mariyam Fathima, an Emirati national, told Arab News
Mitali Banerji is deputy features editor. Email her at email@example.com.