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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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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.