92 percent in UAE back nuclear energy program: Poll

Published April 6th, 2017 - 12:10 GMT
Support for the construction of peaceful nuclear energy plants in the UAE has risen significantly since 2013. (File photo)
Support for the construction of peaceful nuclear energy plants in the UAE has risen significantly since 2013. (File photo)

A new national poll suggests that support for UAE’s nuclear power plan is growing with eight out of 10 people in favour of a new nuclear energy plant slated for completion by 2020 in Abu Dhabi.

Read more: Where Does The UAE's Nuclear Project Stand?

When the Western Region Barakah nuclear plant’s four reactors go online, the facility will deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs and save up to 12 million tonnes in carbon emissions every year.

The first of the four reactors is 94 percent complete while the remaining three units are 78 percent complete.

The new national poll suggests “some of the highest favourability rates for nuclear energy in the world, and is now at 83 percent — an increase of 13 percent since the last poll conducted in 2013,” said Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) in a statement on Wednesday.

A further 92 percent of the 750 respondents polled by market research firm Kantar TNS said they believed the new nuclear energy scheme was important for the country.

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“The results of this survey show that ENEC's regular and active engagement with the public is increasingly successful,” said Mohammad Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, in a statement. “The findings of the research conclude that UAE residents support the development of peaceful nuclear energy because it plays a strategic role in powering the future growth of the nation.”

The findings also suggest that Emiratis like the notion that the plant will be a long-standing source of energy with minimal impact on the environment because power plant emissions will not contribute to greenhouse gases and global warming.

Read more: How The UAE Plans To Break Free Of Oil Dependency

Kantar TNS survey poll results suggested that 87 percent of Emiratis liked the idea of moving to “a low-carbon energy source”, ENEC said, “and 86 percent agree with nuclear energy as a clean, reliable and efficient source of energy production”.

The high-approval levels are good news for UAE nuclear plans as compared to other countries around the world where concerns over the ecologically safe disposal of radioactive, spent nuclear rods are high. In February at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Yukiya Amano, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), assuaged global public health fears noting that used nuclear waste can be safely buried deep within the earth at remote, approved waste sites.

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“It is difficult to deal with higher levels of waste, spent fuel,” Amano said. “There is a way, geological disposal.”

He said that in “Finland, a project is making very good progress. It’s due to start operating in 2022”.

Spent rods with lower and medium levels of radioactive materials are easier to dispose of, he said, pointing out that there are 60 nuclear reactors now under construction around the world with the help and guidance of IAEA, he said.

Amano said IAEA has been “working in close cooperation” with the UAE since the Barakah project started to ensure the highest levels of safety and proper training.

Key findings:-

  • 69% believe that peaceful nuclear energy is important for the nation.
  • Favourability was highest among Emiratis, at 87%. Support for the construction of peaceful nuclear energy plants in the UAE has risen to 79%, up 11% from 2013.
  • The percentage of residents who believe it is important for the UAE to have a peaceful nuclear energy programme to be able to meet the nation’s electricity needs has risen to 69%, up 6% from 2013.
  • 81% of UAE residents are now aware of ENEC, a major increase from 2013 when 56% of residents were aware of ENEC.
  • UAE nationals were the most aware of ENEC at 93%.

(Source: Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation)

By Derek Baldwin

 


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