Rolls-Royce of the UK has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC) to assess Abu Dhabi's industrial capabilities to support a potential civilian nuclear power programme in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The MoU follows in the context of the UAE policy published in April 2008, calling for the evaluation and potential implementation of a peaceful nuclear energy programme to address expected energy supply shortfalls in the country. The policy projects electricity demand escalating from 15.5 GWe in 2008 to over 40 GWe in 2020, with natural gas supplies only able to meet half of this. Nuclear power emerged as a proven, competitive option to meet this demand and provide future energy security.
The policy called for the structuring and launch of ENEC, which is being established, and when formed will be the vehicle of the government of Abu Dhabi that will develop and oversee potential nuclear energy development. The policy also calls for the development and launch of an independent nuclear regulatory agency in the UAE.
The UAE's implementation organization met in Abu Dhabi in late June with a number of nuclear industry companies which are prospective participants in its plans, notably constructing and operating the first of 14 proposed nuclear power plants, delivering 20 GWe by 2020. This total nuclear capacity would free up 35 million tonnes (24 million barrels) of oil or 40 billion cubic metres of gas per year for export.
The vision of the Government of Abu Dhabi is for the Emirate to become a centre of expertise and capability for components and equipment for the potential UAE nuclear power programme.
Sir John Rose, CEO of Rolls-Royce, said: "Rolls-Royce has been involved in the nuclear industry for over 50 years and is well placed to respond to the growing, world-wide interest in civil nuclear. We look forward to applying our expertise to help Abu Dhabi assess its civil nuclear capability."
Rolls-Royce claims to have "the largest nuclear skills base in the UK, with an existing supply chain of 260 companies, and can support several of the key phases of a civil nuclear programme, including providing advice to governments and operators, and technical engineering support."
In July, Rolls-Royce announced the establishment of a new business unit to address the global market for civil nuclear power. The company said the worldwide nuclear power market would be worth $100 billion in 15 years time, up from $60 billion now. This will break down into $40 billion in new build, $34 billion in support for new reactors and $26 billion in support for units existing today, Rolls-Royce said.
The announcement of the MoU between Rolls-Royce and ENEC follows shortly after a trade mission, led by British prime minister Gordon Brown, to the Middle East. Sir Rose was among the 27 senior business leaders on the trip, who were accompanied by UK Business Secretary Peter Mandelson and Energy Secretary Ed Miliband.