Sustainability

ENEC launches ‘ADVANCE’ program to accelerate decarbonisation efforts

The program combines ENEC’s expertise in large-scale nuclear energy deployment with its network of international technology suppliers of advanced reactors, to drive the decarbonisation of energy intensive industries

Ahead of COP28, the ENEC ADVANCE program has been announced by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC). The program aims to take advantage of the latest advancements in nuclear energy technologies, and aims to strengthen the UAE’s position as a nation delivering climate action by accelerating the global clean energy transition to Net Zero.

According to a statement from ENEC, the programme will evaluate the latest technologies in the advanced, Small Modular Reactor (SMR) and microreactor categories, which can generate clean electrons and molecules, such as steam, hydrogen and ammonia, as well as process heat for industrial processes. In doing so, ENEC, the UAE’s only mandated nuclear energy developer, will then work with national stakeholders to determine deployment pathways, and with international partners for both technology and project collaboration opportunities.

Within the ‘Year of Sustainability’ in the UAE, the program will support the continued rapid decarbonisation of the country’s heavy and energy intensive industries, creating further sources of clean energy while using the latest technologies and helping to deliver Net Zero by 2050.

Heavy industry (steel, aluminum, oil, gas, cement and chemicals), and transport currently contribute to 50% of the UAE’s total carbon emissions. These sectors are challenging to decarbonise as they require vast amounts of energy continuously, and a significant portion of the emissions arises from activities conducted off-grid, the statement explained.

Advanced reactors and SMRs offer an innovative decarbonisation solution for these sectors. These reactors can be co-located with critical infrastructure and provide a reliable supply of clean electricity, as well as clean steam, heat and hydrogen. SMRs are easier to manufacture, thereby contributing greater economies of scale, in addition to being flexible, safe and efficient to deploy.

ENEC ADVANCE offers a clear example of the action-oriented approach the nation is taking to fast-track the clean energy transition, through leveraging the latest technologies in the nuclear energy sector. The program will expedite and centralise the UAE’s approach to deploying state-of-the-art nuclear technology and boosting value streams through the generation of clean electrons and molecules, strengthening opportunities for users to generate green premiums for their low-carbon end products, the statement added.

“Nuclear energy is vital for reaching Net Zero as part of a balanced portfolio of energy sources, and we are committed to evaluating and deploying the latest nuclear energy technologies to accelerate the decarbonisation of the UAE’s hard-to-abate industries that require ever-growing volumes of clean electricity, molecules, heat and steam. This announcement builds on the great momentum we have made with the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant and the significant expertise we have gained. ENEC is working to harness innovative nuclear energy technologies like advanced reactors to facilitate the achievement of the UAE’s climate goals and transition to low-carbon energy systems,” said His Excellency Mohamed Al Hammadi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ENEC.

“The Barakah Plant is already the largest single source of clean electricity in the UAE and the Arab World. Now, as we evaluate the leaders in the emerging advanced reactor arena, we will utilise the ADVANCE program to select the best technologies for our needs here in the UAE, as well as for projects internationally, where we see opportunities for collaboration and co-investment. We look forward to working closely with our global partners to advance the peaceful use of nuclear energy and support the global goal of tripling global nuclear capacity by 2050,” added Al Hammadi.

With Unit 4 of the Barakah plant due to start up in 2024, ENEC said it is now focused on capitalising on the full value of the UAE’s investment in the nuclear energy sector, working closely with key technology companies and energy intensive industry leaders to identify the right technology and meet the growing demand for clean electricity and molecules.

ENEC’s technology selection and opportunity for co-investment in technologies, will ensure it remains at the forefront of advanced reactor development and create more attractive, high-value and long-term job opportunities for UAE Nationals. ADVANCE boosts the UAE’s R&D and innovation activities, enhancing national intellect that can cross-pollinate to related sectors, the firm stated.

The announcement comes as reports show that global electricity demand is set to double by 2050, combined with a new era of international support for nuclear energy as a proven solution for energy security and sustainability. Global nuclear energy capacity will need to triple to meet the growing demand for clean energy and meet Net Zero targets, and this capacity will come from large-scale reactors, advanced reactors and SMRs. At present, there are over 80 SMR designs alone at varying stages of progress, with owners anticipating commercial deployment in the early 2030s. The SMR market is already valued at over $6bn, which is expected to rise significantly once the first reactors come online.

As a key player, the UAE welcomes other nations visiting the country for COP28 to learn how the nation has rapidly decarbonised its power grid, through the deployment of nuclear energy, offering a model for others looking for a proven route to reducing carbon emissions while boosting energy security.

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