A new study suggests there is overwhelming public support for the UAE’s peaceful nuclear energy programme.
Global research consultancy TNS has announced the results of its study regarding support for nuclear energy in the UAE, with 82 per cent of respondents in favour. That figure is up from 66 per cent a year ago.
The UAE has committed to building four nuclear energy plants  by 2020 as part of its peaceful nuclear energy programme.
Work on the nuclear energy project commenced last year, with the first plant expected to become operational in 2017, pending further regulatory approvals.
The construction and operation of the plants is being carried out by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) .
Some 89 per cent of residents believe that peaceful nuclear energy is extremely important, very important or important for the nation, up by four per cent from 2011.
The TNS study also found that 55 per cent of respondents identify nuclear energy as a main source of power generation, second only to oil.
Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of Emiratis support nuclear energy and recognise its role in job creation.
Respondents also associated nuclear energy in the UAE  with words such as “better power supply” and “cost-effective.”
The study found increased awareness of nuclear energy in the UAE, showing a 13 per cent increase over the 2011 survey.
TNS said in a statement: “Although some reassurance work needs to be done on nuclear waste disposal, the survey saw a decline in concerns related to overall safety of nuclear power plants  as compared to the last year, which can be attributed to the efforts spearheaded by the UAE government, ENEC and other nuclear industry bodies in the UAE.”
TNS CEO Stephan Hamilton-Clark added: “These results show a clear link between awareness of benefits and public support for policy decisions. As the UAE moves toward a more diverse economy, citizens are becoming more mindful of issues connected to economic growth, in particular the need for energy diversification, energy security and sustainability.”
TNS said that in December 2012 it conducted face-to-face interviews using a structured questionnaire with 750 UAE residents, sampling chief wage-earners in UAE households. The survey was performed in accordance to global market research standards.