UAE dominates clean energy sector in region

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RIYADH: The UAE has made great strides in deploying its nuclear power plant in decarbonizing the electricity supply to meet its net-zero emission target of 2050 and offer clean, safe and reliable energy to its growing population.

Last month, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. announced the start of the commercial operations of Unit 2 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, adding 1,400 MW of zero-carbon electricity to the nation’s power grid and generating a total power of 2,800 MW from Unit 1 and Unit 2.

Once fully operational, all four units will generate 5,600 MW, making it one of the largest nuclear power stations in the world in terms of installed capacity.

“Barakah Plant is now delivering the largest decarbonization effort in the history of the UAE’s power sector and the region,” said Mohamed Ibrahim Al-Hammadi, managing director and CEO of ENEC.

“With all four units getting operational in the coming years, Barakah will generate up to 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity and is forecast to be the biggest contributor in reducing Abu Dhabi’s carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2025,” he said.

Al-Hammadi further added that the plant would generate 85 percent of Abu Dhabi’s clean energy and, once entirely in service, will prevent 22.4 million tons of carbon emissions annually.

In fact, clean energy has assumed considerable significance in light of the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that has called on all stakeholders to take drastic action against climate change as climate breakdown is happening faster than expected and that the window to take action is closing quickly.

Estimates suggest that even if current global commitments are delivered, the world is headed for 2.4 degree Celsius warming, far beyond the 2016 Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degree Celsius.

Last October, the UAE announced its Net-Zero by 2050 strategic initiative, encouraging other nations such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to follow suit and commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2060, signaling increased momentum towards decarbonization in the region.

In reality, the role of nuclear energy has continued to grow in recent months. According to ENEC, Abu Dhabi became the first market worldwide to recognize nuclear as a form of clean energy — granting UAE companies access to Environmental Social Governance certification through the purchase of clean energy certificates.

Organizations can now advance their ESG reporting abilities, gain an advantage with regional and global peers and gain increased access to ESG-committed markets worldwide. 

ENEC further stated that nuclear energy in the UAE is sustainably fueling economic growth and prosperity by creating new high-tech industries and high-value local atomic supply chains. The atomic energy industry has opened up significant business opportunities for local and international companies and is helping to diversify the economy in the UAE.

The sector will continue to accelerate research and development in nuclear sciences and drive innovation in various related fields, including hydrogen — driving future decarbonization. Essentially, the industry has developed skills and knowledge for a whole new generation of Emiratis inspired to continue tackling climate change and become the energy leaders of tomorrow.

The region has also laid a substantial groundwork for green energy. It is already home to three of the largest and lowest-cost solar plants globally and is a pioneer in new zero-carbon fuels such as hydrogen. Only time will tell how these measures will combine to position the UAE as a leading force in the world of sustainability.

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