ENEC head discusses COVID-19 impact on global energy industry

Barakah Nuclear Energy PlantMohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), has held a video conference with Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center, titled ‘COVID-19 and the Future of the Decarbonised Global Power System’

They discussed the progress of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the impact of the pandemic on energy systems and the importance of decarbonised and secure energy systems in the future.

The online discussion forms part of the Atlantic Council’s evolving discussions and analysis of the impacts of COVID-19 on the global energy industry.

Al Hammadi highlighted how the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme has continued to power the social and economic growth of the nation. The programme has positioned the UAE at the forefront of global efforts to decarbonize the electricity sector.

“The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, Arab’s first peaceful nuclear energy plant located in the Al Dhafra region, Abu Dhabi, will change the way the UAE powers its growth. It will produce 5.6GW of clean electricity and prevent the release of more than 21mn tonne CO2 emissions annually. The plant will also provide countless high-value jobs by establishing a sustainable local nuclear energy industry and its supply chain,” said Al Hammadi.

“The Barakah Plant and nuclear energy all over the world are contributing to the decarbonisation of the electricity sector, and the growth of electrification. The emissions prevented by the operation of the Barakah Plant alone, will be equivalent to removing 3.2mn cars from the road annually. It is significant for combating global warming, and addressing the rising levels of air pollution all around the world,” he added.

Talking about the impact of COVID-19, Al Hammadi said, “In response to the global pandemic, and following the guidance of the UAE’s leadership, we came together with our partners to implement a range of measures, which ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees; but also enables continuity of our business, and the start of Unit 1 schedule at the Barakah Plant. COVID-19 has posed a tremendous challenge for all of us, however, I am proud of our teams’ response, and fortunate to be able to say, that we have not experienced a single positive case of COVID-19 at the Barakah site. The work is continuing to progress safely and steadily on all four units of the plant.”

ENEC’s business continuity programme has enabled the safe and steady development of the Barakah Plant, revealed Al Hammadi.

“Following receipt of the operating license from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Reregulation (FANR) and having completed the loading of fuel assemblies into Unit 1’s reactor, we are in the advanced stages of starting up Unit 1. This Unit will reach criticality very soon, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not derailed our plans. We have 700 employees working on the project, to meet the timeline," said Al Hammadi. "Testing is also continuing at Units 2, 3 and 4, following the completion of all major construction work," he added.

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