Experts praise UAE’s civilian nuclear energy programme

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Model nuclear reactor the UAE is constructing under a civilian nuclear energy programme. Photo - Yochi Dreazen/Pulitzercenter.org

According to industry expert, the UAE’s nuclear programme is of “gold standard” which other countries should adopt in their quest for nuclear energy.

Dr. Dale Klein, former chairman of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said: “The Emirates has applied a logical well thought-out approach to building the country’s first four reactor.”

“The United Arab Emirates has been very good at explaining to the public what nuclear means, why it is important for the country and what step it’s taking. It is very important that people understand how nuclear power plants must work and why they are being built,” he said during his lecture at the Majilis of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

The Emirati nuclear authorities have started infrastructure work for the four nuclear reactors in Baraka, located 50 km away from Ruwais in Abu Dhabi emirate. The first nuclear reactor is expected to be ready by 2017, with 3 more reactors to be completed and operational by 2020.

In the wake of last year’s nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, the UAE has certainly made some changes in its nuclear plans, Dr. Klein noted.

While, the region is not likely to be struck by an earthquake, tsunami or any such major calamity, the Emirati authorities do have to take certain conditions into consideration, the former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission emphasised.

“You need to make sure your equipment can operate in very hot and very dusty condition,” Dr. Klein said.

While all the four nuclear plants in Baraka will be having watertight seals and battery compartments, which were missing in Fukushima, Dr. Klein also recommended the Emirati authorities to invest in additional electrical generators.

In his statement, he compared the UAE’s nuclear programme with that of neighbouring Iran. “Iran is not as transparent as the world would like. It is not clear what their level of safety is. It is not clear what their level of training is,” he claimed in his speech.

Prudence

Lady Barbara Judge, another prominent member of the international nuclear board that advises the UAE on nuclear development, has praised the UAE’s nuclear programme and the safety procedure it is following to become the Arab world’s first civilian nuclear energy producer.

In her lecture at the Sheikh Zayed University, she said: “The UAE understand that the key is to bring in the best people, give them the best facilities and high degree of autonomy.”

“Abu Dhabi has the gold standard of nuclear projects. It is peaceful, transparent and will be a model for the rest of the world,” she added.

Lady Judge also praised the country’s plan to include other low-carbon power developments including solar power.

“If the UAE succeeded in developing a balanced mix of nuclear, gas-fired and renewable power to satisfy its burgeoning domestic electricity demand, it would be the envy of the world,” she underlined in her speech.

With the rapid development taking place in UAE, the domestic power consumption is set to grow at annual rate of 9 percent per year till 2020.

UAE’s IAEA Bid

The Federal Government has pledged to meet highest standard of safety and transparency for its nuclear programme with having the total budget of US$20 billion for all four reactors.

The government is also pursuing its right to enrich uranium for producing reactor fuel under international laws, which has ultimately opened its nuclear development process at the IAEA.

Country’s nuclear policy has also been endorsed by nuclear powers like US, France and Russia.

Hamad al Kaabi, UAE representative to IAEA said earlier that there are two seats available on the IAEA board for which UAE, Iran and Jordan are competing. He emphasised that the UAE is keen to join IAEA board.

“What we’ve demonstrated as a government is that by having these clear, transparent policies with the highest commitment for non-proliferation, we have secured support from international community,” Kaabi said in an interview.

Presently, there are more than 60 nuclear reactors that are under construction, on their way to join more than 435 that are already in operation.

Sources: The National, Middle-East-Online.com

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