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A recent national poll conducted by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) revealed that the UAE public continue to support the UAE’s nuclear energy program.
Results showed that 85 per cent of UAE residents polled believe that peaceful nuclear energy is important and over the last six months 47 per cent have become more favourable toward the programme.
The study also shows that members of the public are interested in where the proposed power plants will be built, emergency planning and training.
The research was conducted by independent global market research specialists TNS and is part of ENEC’s community outreach program, which involves a range of activities including public meetings and educational initiatives.
ENEC is responsible for the construction and operation of the UAE’s first nuclear energy plants, which are due to begin providing electricity to the UAE grid in 2017. The company has held two public forums last week, in the Western Region and Abu Dhabi, as part of its community outreach efforts.
The UAE’s approach to the development of a civil nuclear energy program has received strong support from the international community.
“The findings demonstrate that UAE residents understand the important role nuclear energy will play in the UAE’s future energy mix,” said Mohamed Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC. “I am encouraged that this study shows a growing number of people understand and support this program. It also shows that people share our concerns about delivering a program that sets an international benchmark for safety, efficiency and operational excellence.”
More than 750 people were interviewed across the UAE as part of the study. Key findings include:
• Support for Nuclear Energy as a Source of Electricity in the UAE
Seventy-two percent of respondents believe that nuclear energy is important for meeting the future energy needs of the UAE. Support was highest among Emiratis, at 77 per cent.
• Support for the Construction of Nuclear Energy Plants in the UAE
Sixty percent of people polled support the construction of a nuclear energy plant in their Emirate. Twenty-three percent of people are indifferent towards the construction of plants. Support was stronger among Emiratis, with 67 per cent of Emiratis supporting the construction of a nuclear energy plant in their Emirate.
• Response to Fukushima, Japan and Safety Considerations
Respondents said that safety related considerations including a location far from population centers (73 per cent), a well equipped and trained disaster management team (73 per cent), a location far from earthquake zones (72 per cent), well maintained equipment (71 per cent), government regulation/policy on nuclear energy (71 per cent), and well trained employees (70 per cent) are essentials for constructing a nuclear energy plant.
• Reassured by International Support, Regulators, CO2 Emissions Reductions
Respondents said their support of the program would be strengthened by: continued support from the international community and regulators (60 per cent); support from local and federal entities and governments (49 per cent); the role nuclear energy would play in decreasing the country’s carbon footprint (41 per cent); and the employment opportunities created by the development of a nuclear energy industry (39 per cent).
The forums follow similar events hosted in Abu Dhabi and the Western Region during the past year to raise awareness and answer questions about the UAE’s peaceful nuclear energy program. A team from ENEC presented the latest information about the preferred site for the UAE plant near Braka, the advanced safety features of the APR 1400 nuclear reactor and ENEC’s safety culture. The team also discussed the Fukushima accident in Japan and provided all attendees with the opportunity to ask questions of the panel.
“Safety, effectiveness and excellence are the most important issues to ENEC as we work under the guidance of the IAEA and the regulation of FANR, and others around the world to better understand and learn from Fukushima,” said Mr. Al Hammadi. “These forums, along with our discussions with experts around the world, are important to ensure we proceed with a clear focus and the understanding and continued support of the local and international community.”