Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 June 2019

Nuclear power is the answer to growing energy demands, forum hears

Nuclear power is the best way for the country to meet its energy demands, visitors to a forum have heard.
Maryam Qasem, Enec’s senior nuclear fuel logistics engineer, said raising awareness about the uses of natural radiation sources among Emirati youth was vital. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Maryam Qasem, Enec’s senior nuclear fuel logistics engineer, said raising awareness about the uses of natural radiation sources among Emirati youth was vital. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Nuclear power is the best way for the country to meet its energy demands, visitors to a forum have heard.

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation held an event last week where the company’s mission was outlined to about 200 members of the public.

Mohammed Al Hammadi, Enec’s chief executive, said population growth meant different kinds of energy sources needed to be exploited.

“Energy demand is growing, not just in the UAE, but the whole world which is facing a challenge in meeting that demand to raise the standards of living. We also face the challenge of climate change and we have to consider the environment while meeting our energy demand,” he said.

He said there was no one energy policy that worked for all countries. “There is a consensus that all available forms of energy will be needed to meet future demands,” he said. “Each country must assess the most viable means to deliver electricity to power their economic growth. In the UAE, we are moving decisively forward with an energy portfolio that is adequately diversified and balanced.”

The peaceful use of nuclear energy will play an important role in this policy. “It offers a safe, clean, reliable and efficient source of electricity that has almost no carbon emissions,” Mr Al Hammadi added. “This industry will also contribute to the economic and social growth and provide opportunities for UAE nationals. Such forums are an important part of that promise.”

By 2020, the country’s nuclear power plant in Barakah will supply around a quarter of the Emirates’ electricity needs. But that will not suffice. “Studies have shown that the UAE requires a growth of nine per cent in electricity production which is three times the global average,” said Ali Al Nuaimi, senior reactor operator at Enec. “By 2020, we see there will be a great gap between what is needed and what is being produced and this gap has led to an urgent need to develop additional sources of electricity production.”

By 2030, the UAE’s population is forecast to grow by 40 per cent and its GDP to more than triple. “Energy and electricity are at the very heart of a country’s growth,” he said. “We are facing huge increases in energy demands and, as we build our infrastructure, we need to grow and develop. All industries are developing and none of this can be achieved without electricity.”

Radiation was another topic of discussion in an aim to rectify misconceptions among the population. “We’re trying to make people understand that the natural radiation sources that we have are much [better] than the artificial ones that are being produced and we want to explain to people that the power plant operates on the highest safety and quality standards,” said 29-year-old Emirati Maryam Qasem, Enec’s senior nuclear fuel logistics engineer for the past five years. “We have multiple defence systems to contain the radiation, it’s very safe for people to work on a power plant and to live in a proximity.”

She said raising awareness among Emirati youth was vital. “We are at an age and time where it’s very important to make sure the community is on our side so they can raise their children to contribute towards projects that the country gets involved in,” she said. “We want to make sure they know how much the UAE is investing in these projects for their advantage and for the growth of their country.”

Fatma Al Amiri, a 34-year-old Emirati from Sharjah, attended the forum in the hopes of working in the nuclear industry in the near future. “It’s something for the future and every year we witness the growth of the nuclear power plant,” she said. “Oil and gas will not last forever so I want to try to contribute as much as I can. I used to work in the military for more than 10 years so this is about serving my country.”

cmalek@thenational.ae

Updated: May 22, 2016 04:00 AM

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