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Second nuclear power plant planned for UAE

UAE nuclear energy plant WAM
The Barakah nuclear power plant in Western Abu Dhabi. The UAE has been planning the next phase of Barakah, reactors 5 to 8, since 2019
  • Reactors to double to eight
  • Operational readiness by 2032
  • Only the third in region

A second nuclear power plant is being planned by the UAE, which would double the current number of reactors in the country to eight.

The plant will be tendered within a few months and construction could start later this year, to reach operational readiness in 2032, sources told Reuters.

The UAE’s energy minister, Suhail Al Mazrouei, told the World Economic Forum in Riyadh on Sunday that the Emirates may exceed its target of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030.

The UAE was one of 22 nations who signed up at Cop28 to agree to triple global nuclear energy capacity by 2050.

Asked about the plans for the second plant, the Ministry of Energy referred AGBI to the state-owned Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec).

Enec declined to comment further on the Reuters report and referred to a public statement from January, confirming it was “exploring opportunities in the UAE and overseas to maximise the full value of the expertise developed in nuclear mega project programmer delivery and technology deployment”.

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation has not responded to a request for comment.

The UAE signed a nuclear energy cooperation agreement with the United States in 2009 and became the first Arab country to operate a nuclear power plant in 2021.

Joint venture

The $32 billion plant, 140 miles west of Abu Dhabi city, has been developed by Barakah One, a joint venture between Enec and the Korea Electric Power Corporation.

Elsewhere in the region, only Iran operates a nuclear plant. The plant, in Bushehr, on the Gulf coast, has one operational reactor, with a second to be added.

Saudi Arabia is considering bids from China, France, and Russia for its nuclear plans. Russia will own and operate Turkey’s Akkuyu plant, in the country’s south-east, and is building Egypt’s $29 billion El Debaa plant, 175 miles west of Cairo.

Enec’s operating and maintenance subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, connected the fourth 1.4 GW unit of its plant to the grid in March. Commercial operations are expected to begin this year.

The whole plant will generate a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs for the next 60 years, preventing the release of 22.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

Next phase

According to reports, the UAE has been planning the next phase of Barakah, reactors 5 to 8, since 2019.

The UAE’s second nuclear plant could be located on a coastal site near Saudi Arabia’s border, or near Barakah.

Last year, Enec signed three agreements to increase its nuclear power capacity with China’s Nuclear Power Operations Research Institute, the China National Nuclear Corporation Overseas and the China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation.

It launched a programme last November to evaluate small modular reactors and advanced reactor technologies for domestic and international investment and development.

“Advanced reactors will be pivotal in delivering the UAE’s energy strategy, net zero by 2050 strategy and hydrogen roadmap,” Enec said in a statement.

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