On track for a nuclear future in the UAE?
Nuclear and renewable energy are not subject to the same price fluctuations as fossil fuels. (Shutterstock)
The UAE’s nuclear energy projects, developed by Emirates Nuclear Energy Company (Enec), are making progress, with the reactors expected to be delivered on time, said Jeffrey Benjamin, senior vice-president of nuclear power plants at Westinghouse Electric Company. “We continue to see very solid progress on the projects. I can’t speak for Enec, but everything I’m seeing and hearing gives me high confidence that these projects are being well-managed,” he said.
Benjamin was speaking to reporters on Sunday at the opening of Westinghouse’s new office in Abu Dhabi.He also said that falling oil prices were not going to compromise focus on nuclear energy as fossil fuel prices tend to fluctuate often whereas nuclear and renewable energy are more stable.
“I think nuclear energy makes great sense for Abu Dhabi, and that’s why a number of other countries in the region are also strongly considering nuclear energy … I do see it as one of the cornerstones of Abu Dhabi’s energy policy for many years to come,” Benjamin said.
The US-based company provides power plant components, along with engineering, licencing, and training services for Enec’s four units currently under construction at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant. The first of the units is scheduled to become operational in 2017.
Westinghouse, whose Abu Dhabi office marks its first in the Middle East and 63rd globally, said it was hoping to expand in the Middle East and North African market, with the UAE’s capital being their regional hub.
“We’re certainly aware of [nuclear] ambitions in the region [by countries such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia]. We continue to actively look at all those markets and a few others. At this point in time, we haven’t decided to play in any of those markets, but as they further develop, I think our decisions will develop as well,” Benjamin said.
He added that the company has been re-examining its technology and operating practices globally since the Fukushima accident in Japan where a major earthquake led to a nuclear accident in 2011.
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