The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has launched the ENEC ADVANCE Programme, a new nuclear energy technology platform for Abu Dhabi.

The ENEC ADVANCE Programme, launched before the UAE COP28 summit, highlights Abu Dhabi’s approach to clean energy transition through advancing the latest, smart technologies and high-tech innovations including Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). Its aim is to streamline and expedite Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s deployment of state-of-the-art technology, centralising this through ENEC. 

The programme aims to strengthen the UAE’s position as a leader in the local and global clean energy transition. It also enhances ENEC’s strategic position in a growing sector that is dedicated to climate action.

Aligning with the UAE Year of Sustainability, the programme will support the continued decarbonisation of the UAE’s heavy and energy intensive industries. This will create further sources of clean energy using the latest technologies and help achieve the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 ambitions.

Heavy industry, such as steel, aluminium, 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.

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.

The programme will further develop the clean energy economy in the UAE and boost revenue streams through the generation of clean electrons and molecules, strengthening green premiums for off-takers and enable users to charge a green premium for their end products.

His Excellency Mohamed Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Managing Director and CEO of ENEC, said: “Nuclear energy is vital for reaching net zero and we are committed to accelerating the decarbonisation of the UAE’s hard-to-abate industries that require ever-growing volumes of clean electricity, molecules, heat and steam today.

“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.

“The Barakah Plant is already the largest single source of clean electricity in the UAE and Arab world. As we evaluate the leaders in the emerging advanced reactor arena, we will utilise the ADVANCE Programme 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.”

As a key enabler of the UAE’s decarbonisation efforts, the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, developed by ENEC, is now even closer to full-fleet operations following the recent announcement by the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) that it has granted the Operating License for Unit 4. The Barakah plant already generates more than 80 per cent of Abu Dhabi emirate’s clean electricity and will generate 40 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually once fully operational, while preventing the release of more than 22.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

With Unit 4 of the Barakah plant due to start up in 2024, ENEC 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. The ADVANCE Program boosts the UAE’s R&D and innovation activities, enhancing national intellect that can cross-pollinate to related sectors.