The UAE will host the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) Biennial General Meeting, set to take place for the first time in the Middle East region, in Abu Dhabi on 28-30 September 2024. The announcement follows the appointment of His Excellency Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), as the first Emirati and first Arab WANO President in October 2022.

Abu Dhabi and the UAE have become a benchmark for the delivery of peaceful nuclear energy to the highest standards of safety, security, quality and non-proliferation, offering a model for newcomer nations looking to develop their own civil nuclear energy facilities. ENEC’s Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is today playing a significant role in rapidly decarbonising the nation’s energy sector and is a leading contributor to the UAE’s economic development, providing energy security and sustainability. The UAE is committed to supporting newcomer nations, in addition to existing members, to enhance operational safety and reliability across the global fleet.

His Excellency Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Managing Director and CEO of ENEC and President of WANO, said: “We are proud that Abu Dhabi will host the upcoming WANO Biennial General Meeting and, as WANO’s President, I look forward to championing our collective mission to drive nuclear excellence in operational safety and reliability. Global forecasts highlight the need to double the global nuclear fleet to support the achievement of Net Zero 2050. We therefore must ensure we support newcomer nations and nations expanding their existing fleet to meet the highest standards of nuclear excellence to ensure safe and reliable electricity generation.

“At ENEC, we will continue leveraging our experience of working with the global nuclear energy industry to deliver the Barakah Plant, collaborating with key nuclear organisations in the international community to support the development of advanced nuclear technologies.”

ENEC joined WANO in October 2010. His Excellency Al Hammadi was elected to the WANO Atlanta Center Governing Board in August 2015, and was elected as WANO President at the Biennial General Meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, in October 2022.

WANO, established in 1989, has 120 members from around 30 countries responsible for operating more than 430 nuclear energy reactors around the world including in the US, Europe, and Asia. The entity is committed to meeting a set of ambitious 2030 industry targets, helping every country and company involved in civil nuclear operations achieve the highest possible standards of nuclear safety through the exchange of information and best practices.

In 2009, the UAE became the first new nation in 27 years to begin a peaceful nuclear energy program, and ENEC is committed to the WANO mission of maximising safety and reliability since joining the association in 2010. ENEC and its subsidiaries regularly participate in the organisation’s workshops, events, and training programmes, and undergo key pre-start up and peer reviews. WANO reviews are globally recognised nuclear industry assessments conducted in line with the international industry standards set by WANO, and which provide an independent source of feedback for nuclear plant operators around the world.

Nuclear energy has entered a new period of rapid growth, innovation and change, and the UAE, and Abu Dhabi in particular, is accelerating the transition to clean energy sources with the Barakah Plant generating clean electricity and acting as a catalyst for innovation and investment in other clean technologies. The plant has three commercially operating nuclear units, with a fourth in the final stage of commission. Barakah is a nation-defining strategic energy project, currently generating 30TWh of clean electricity every year.

Playing a significant role in Abu Dhabi’s and the wider UAE’s clean energy transition, ENEC and its subsidiaries are now one unit away from completing the four-unit Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant and realising its commitment to deliver up to 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity demands. The first multi-unit operating plant in the Arab World, Barakah already powers more than 80 per cent of the Abu Dhabi’s clean electricity.

Barakah is a driving force for new technology development in the clean energy transition, including small modular reactor (SMR) development and next-generation reactors, and producing the clean molecules – steam, hydrogen and ammonia, along with heat, that is urgently needed to generate the energy required to decarbonise industry and hard-to-abate sectors, such as shipping and aviation among others.