Nuclear Power in the United Arab Emirates
(updated December 2012)
* The UAE is taking deliberate steps in close consultation with the International Atomic Energy Agency to embark upon a nuclear power program. * It has accepted a $20 billion bid from a South Korean consortium to build four commercial nuclear power reactors, total 5.6 GWe, by 2020. * Construction of the first unit started in July 2012.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was founded in 1971, comprising seven states including Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Abu Dhabi city is the federal capital of UAE, and Abu Dhabi emirate accounts for 86% of the land area of UAE, and 95% of its oil. Dubai is the UAE's largest city. Background: Gulf Cooperation
Since commencing studies in collaboration with other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the UAE has proceeded with plans to set up on its own an ambitious nuclear power program with significant capacity being on line by 2020. In December 2006 the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar and Oman - announced that the Council was commissioning a study on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. France agreed to work with them on this, and Iran pledged assistance with nuclear technology. Together they produce 273 billion kWh per year, all from fossil fuels (2003) and 5-7% annual demand growth. They have total installed capacity of about 80 GWe, with a common grid. There is also a large demand for desalination, currently fuelled by oil and gas (directly or indirectly). A 2009 report projects GCC electricity demand increasing 10% annually to 2015, and desalination demand growing at 8%, implying the need for 60 GWe of new capacity by 2015. In February 2007 the six states agreed with the IAEA to cooperate on a feasibility study for a regional nuclear power and desalination program. Saudi Arabia was leading the investigation and thought that a program might emerge about 2009. Regional electricity grid integration is progressing, including a 3000 MWe connection from Iran by 2015. The six nations are all signatories of the NPT and the UAE ratified a safeguards agreement with IAEA in 2003. In mid 2008 it appointed an ambassador to IAEA. Nuclear power program in UAE
In 2009 the UAE produced 90.6 billion kWh gross, 98% of it from gas, for which it relies on some imports. It has about 19 GWe capacity. Electricity demand is growing by 9% per year and is expected to require 40 GWe of capacity by 2020. It is seeking to import some 1000 MWe from Iran. It relies entirely on electricity to provide its potable water, by desalination. In April 2008 the UAE independently published a comprehensive policy on nuclear energy. This projected escalating electricity demand from 15.5 GWe in 2008 to over 40 GWe in 2020, with natural gas supplies sufficient for only half of this. Imported coal was dismissed as an option due to environmental and energy security implications. Renewables would be able to supply only 6-7% of the needed power by 2020. Nuclear power "emerged as a proven, environmentally promising and commercially competitive option which could make a significant base-load contribution to the UAE’s economy and future energy security." Hence 20 GWe nuclear was envisaged from about 14 plants, with nearly one quarter of this operating by 2020. Two reactors were envisaged for a site between Abu Dhabi city and Ruwais, and a third possibly at Al Fujayrah on the Indian Ocean coast. Another site mentioned is As Sila, in the far west of UAE close to the Saudi border, where it could readily supply Qatar and Bahrain. Accordingly, and as recommended by the IAEA, the UAE established a Nuclear Energy Program Implementation Organization which set up the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) as an Abu Dhabi public entity, initially funded with $100 million, to evaluate and implement nuclear power plans within UAE (or specifically in Abu Dhabi emirate, which comprises 86% of the land...
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