“The UAE, OPEC’s third-largest oil producer, started producing nuclear energy from a 1.4 GW nuclear reactor, becoming the first country in the Gulf to use such a source for power generation.” (Source)
Pretty big news for an oil-rich country. Seems like something to think about.
The new plant: The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is on the Arabian Gulf. (Right, bottom) The plant’s four nuclear reactors will supply up to 25 percent of the UAE’s electricity needs once fully operational.
Why would a country with ample oil build nuclear plants? Climate, markets, and independence are keys.
Looking only at the power generation angle, the shift to nuclear says a lot about pressure to be carbon-free, and maybe about the perception of oil as a future fuel.
In other words, oil for the long-term may not bee seen as a good bet. Other countries are looking to move off hydrocarbons. I recall one petroleum expert telling me there will always be some need for oil, but it will not be used nearly like it is now.
In addition to four nuclear plants, the UAE is also getting into solar power in a big way. There’s lots of sunlight there.
Diversity in electric generation seems like the strategy. Right now, the region uses lots of natural gas for power generation. A BBC report suggests that the country would prefer to use that gas in manufacturing.
Self-sufficiency is important, too. “Some countries that currently have little to no nuclear power capacity look at the technology as a viable option to increase their energy independence and the diversity of their energy portfolio.” (Source)
Using nuclear power is seen as an advantage.
A downside in the news about the nuclear plants in UAE is that the U.S. was not the contractor. It could have been money in the bank for companies, and parts of the U.S., that specialize in nuclear technology. Korea was the contractor in the $40 billion deal.
Something to think about.
Additional reading. Here is a look at the new nuclear plant in the UAE.