Abu Dhabi will build a nuclear power plant even after an
earthquake and tsunami in Japan damaged generators there and released
radioactive material, the head of the Gulf emirate’s utility said today.
“It’s a technology we should bring to the region,” Abdullah
Saif al-Nuaimi, director general of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority
said. Newer technology than that used in Japan’s damaged plants would make Abu
Dhabi’s reactors safer, he said.
A civilian nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi would be the
first in an Arab Gulf state. The capital of the UAE plans to have a reactor
operating in 2017, al-Nuaimi said.
Power demand in Abu Dhabi is rising about 10 percent a year,
and nuclear energy is needed to help the emirate make up for a lack of natural
gas to burn in new generators, he said.
“With a shortage of gas here, we need to find other ways to
produce power,” al-Nuaimi said. Expanding renewable energy sources won’t be
able to keep pace with the increase in demand, meaning technologies like
nuclear power are needed, he said.
Abu Dhabi government-owned Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp is
running the sheikhdom’s reactor program. Adwea, as the authority is known,
generates and distributes power.
The sheikhdom aims to generate about seven percent of its
power from renewable energy by 2020. That would require 1,500 megawatts from
projects such as wind and solar plants, Bruce Smith, a business adviser with
Adwea, said yesterday.
Abu Dhabi plans to build another conventional power plant
before the construction of the nuclear generators is completed, al-Nuaimi said.
Adwea is still deciding on the size and location of the plant, he said.
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