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The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) will submit the construction licence application for Barakah units three and four by the end of 2012
Enec is building four units at the Barakah site, with the first unit scheduled for completion in 2017 and each additional unit becoming operational on an annual basis until 2020.
Mohammad Al Hammadi, CEO of Enec, said that the corporation would apply for an operating licence for unit one in 2015 and would pour concrete for unit two in 2013.
“The UAE government determined that nuclear power was the most viable and compelling solution to meet the UAE’s energy needs to provide base load electricity in a sustainable manner,” Al Hammadi noted.
Alternative energy has been predicted to meet six to seven per cent of the UAE's peak energy demand by 2020, Al Hammadi said.
He added that Enec has signed a US$4.9bn contract to import nuclear fuel for power generation at Barakah.
A total of six companies in the nuclear fuel supply industry will participate in the corporation’s fuel supply programme, including ConverDyn, Uranium One, Urenco, Rio Tinto, Tenex and Areva.
The contracted fuel will enable the Barakah plants to generate up to 450mn MW/h for a period of 15 years from 2017, when the first nuclear power plant is scheduled to begin production.
Nuclear energy is the best alternative energy source, he argued, because the UAE’s natural gas reserves are insufficient to meet demand and burning oil is expensive and not energy-efficient.
Al Hammadi also remarked that coal-fired power, while better than oil from a cost perspective, creates even greater environmental degradation.
“Nuclear energy provides answers to many of the issues faced with conventional energy sources in the areas of the environment, safety, economics and reliability,” he added.
Government reports suggested that the UAE’s energy demand will rise by more than 40,000MW – a growth of nine per cent – per year by 2020.
Global electricity demand is also expected grow at a rate of 2.4 per cent per year, thus putting the region’s energy demand growth at three times the global average.
When the government reviewed these figures in 2006, the UAE had the capacity to produce less than half of its potential electricity demands by 2020, which Enec said had demonstrated the critical need for new sources of electricity.