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Arab World’s First Nuclear Plant Now On The Grid

The Arab World’s first nuclear power plant has been connected to the grid of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said on Wednesday, two weeks after the corporation had successfully started up the nuclear plant.  

With the start-up of Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi, the UAE became the first country in the Arab world, and the 33rd nation globally, to develop a nuclear energy plant to generate electricity, helping the oil-rich emirates to move towards electrification of its energy sector and decarbonization of its electricity production, ENEC said earlier this month.

The unit was safely and successfully connected to the UAE grid, after it was integrated and synchronized with the requirements of the UAE’s national electricity transmission grid, ENEC said today.

“We are confident in our people and our technology to continue to progress to reach commercial operations, and the completion of the remaining three units, with the goal to power up to 25% of the UAE’s electricity needs for at least the next 60 years,” ENEC’s chief executive officer Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi said in a statement.

The UAE touts the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world as a major milestone for the UAE and its energy diversification. Yet, the project raises questions about the economic viability of an expensive nuclear power plant in one of the best spots for solar energy in the world.

More importantly, the project also raises questions about the geopolitical implications of a nuclear facility in the restive Middle East region, where tensions often flare-up between the U.S. and Iran, or between the rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The most concerning aspect of the first civil nuclear project in the Arab world is that it could spark a nuclear arms race and facilitate nuclear proliferation options for actors in the Gulf that choose to pursue it, experts warn.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Dan Pearson on August 19 2020 said:
    It would be very interesting to see the economics of how Nuke power stacks up to Solar power in this part of the world since the Middle East is a prime world location for Solar Power.
  • Mamdouh Salameh on August 19 2020 said:
    Since the discovery of oil in Abu Dhabi in 1958, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been a miracle in the making. It is like a phoenix rising from the burning sands of the UAE.

    The UAE gained independence from the United Kingdom in December, 1971. It is a federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Ajman and Umm al-Quwain. Each emirate is governed by its own ruler; together, they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council.

    The UAE has accumulated so many accolades that no other country in the world could have done so in such a short period of its history. It is the second largest economy in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia. The UAE is also the most diversified economy among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It has established the world’s first research institute, the Masdar Institute of Science & Technology, dedicated for research into renewable energy and sustainability and adoption of sustainable energy technologies. And now, it is operating the Arab world’s first nuclear plant.

    The country owes its spectacular economic growth and fast development to two great visionary leaders: Its former president and ruler of Abu Dhabi the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late ruler of Dubai Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. The late Sheikh Zayed is credited with overseeing the development of the Emirates and steering oil revenues into healthcare, education and infrastructure. Likewise, the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum had a bold vision for Dubai and foresaw the future not in oil alone but also in other industries.

    With this nuclear milestone, the UAE and the Arab world will never be blackmailed by countries in the area with nuclear knowhow.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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