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Realising ambitions for 2017

Mohamed al Hammadi, the chief executive of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, talks to The National

Just over a year into development, the UAE's nuclear ambitions are "on track" with plans to deliver electricity to the power grid in 2017, says Mohamed al Hammadi, the chief executive of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec).

"We are on top of our business and on top of challenges that need to be addressed," said Mr al Hammadi. "Everything is planned and checked three times. We are on the right track."

Enec is proud of its safety record, with more than 2.4 million man hours worked without a "lost time" injury. "The devil is in the detail," said Mr al Hammadi. "So we are very systematic and work to a high standard with a focus on safety."

Enec has grown into a company of more than 300 employees since a consortium led by Korea Electric Power, or Kepco, won the US$20 billion (Dh73.45bn) contract in 2009 to build the four nuclear plants in Braka, after seeing off rival bids from General Electric of the US and France's Areva. Kepco employs more than 1,500 workers at the site, with progress on the earthworks and the construction of an inland dyke, together with the building of construction offices and facilities.

"We are hoping to start work on the construction of the plant itself in April 2012 but that will depend on a review with the regulators," Mr al Hammadi said.

In January, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted a review of the programme and concluded "the development of the UAE's nuclear infrastructure is progressing well and in line with the IAEA's guidelines".

Enec is hoping to generate a quarter of the UAE's electricity demand by 2020. Mr al Hammadi said generating electricity from nuclear sources would ultimately be cheaper than from crude oil, with lower carbon output.

"The price to the consumer would go up if you relied on oil."

He had high praise for his Korean colleagues, adding: "We want this site to replicate as closely as possible a Kepco plant in Korea. We are working in the right direction."

The exact structure of the financing for the project is still to be determined, although it is likely to involve equity stakes from the Abu Dhabi Government and from Kepco, according to Mr al Hammadi, as well as loans from international and local lenders.

 

rwright@thenational.ae

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