After oil, the Emirates go nuclear

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The United Arab Emirates announced on August 1 the start-up of the first of four reactors at the Barakah nuclear power plant, the first in the Arab world, whose commissioning has been repeatedly delayed. The fourth largest producer of OPEC, the federation – made up of seven emirates – has grown since the 1970s thanks to its wealth in oil and gas. But like other Gulf countries, it is now trying to develop other sources of energy. In this country of 9.3 million inhabitants, electricity needs are growing due in particular to the systematic use of air conditioning during scorching summers. When fully operational, the four reactors will have a capacity of 5,600 megawatts, or about 25% of the federation’s needs.

Apart from nuclear, the country has also put in place a multibillion-dollar program to develop renewable energies, with the aim of producing 50% of its energy from clean sources by 2050. “This is part of the process. the Emirates’ desire to diversify their energy mix, reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and project the image of a regional leader in science and technology, “a Gulf specialist told AFP who requested anonymity .

What characteristics?

Located about 200 km west of the capital Abu Dhabi, the Barakah power plant was built by a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation at an estimated cost of $ 24.4 billion (22.5 billion euros ). The first of four reactors at the Barakah plant was due to be commissioned in late 2017, but start-up has been repeatedly postponed, with officials saying more time was needed to meet legal safety requirements. Emirati officials have repeatedly assured that their nuclear program is “peaceful” and that they have no intention of giving it away.

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