UAE poll shows growing support for nuclear

05 April 2017

A national poll has shown that 83% of the residents of the United Arab Emirates "highly favour" of the country's planned use of nuclear energy as part of its electricity generation mix. The UAE's Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), which commissioned market research company Kantar TNS to conduct the survey, said today the figure was an increase of 13% since the last poll conducted in 2013.

Enec is building four Korean-designed nuclear units at Barakah, the first of which is expected to start up later this year. When complete, the power station is expected to deliver up to a quarter of the UAE's electricity. The survey is part of Enec's community outreach program, which involves a range of activities including public forums, educational initiatives and participation in nationally important events.

"The results of this survey show that Enec's regular and active engagement with the public is increasingly successful," Mohamed Al Hammadi, Enec CEO, said. "The findings of the research conclude that UAE residents support the development of peaceful nuclear energy because it plays a strategic role in powering the future growth of the nation."

Strong levels of awareness and support for the Barakah plant to provide up to 25% of the nation's electricity were also shown, according to the survey, with 92% of residents stating they believed the plant to be important for the UAE.

Enec said it remains committed to investing resources in the development of stakeholder engagement activities, and in communication campaigns designed to further explain the benefits of nuclear energy in generating electricity with near-zero carbon emissions, and offer career opportunities for UAE nationals.

"It is encouraging to know that so many UAE residents are not only aware of the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy but actively support the work we are doing at Barakah, with 90% of respondents believing that Enec is building our plant at Barakah to the highest standards of safety and quality," Al Hammadi said. "The findings of this study demonstrate that UAE residents understand the important role peaceful nuclear energy will play in the UAE's future - from supplying clean energy to creating high-value job opportunities."

More than 750 people were interviewed across the UAE as part of the study, in a group of respondents that was reflective of the demographics of the country, Enec said. Key findings include: 69% believe that peaceful nuclear energy is important for the nation; favorability was highest among Emiratis, at 87%; support for the construction of nuclear energy plants in the UAE has risen to 79%, up 11% from 2013; the percentage of residents who believe it is important for the UAE to have a peaceful nuclear energy program in order to be able to meet the nation's electricity needs has risen to 69%, up 6%; the vast majority of UAE residents, 81%, are aware of Enec, up from 56%; UAE nationals were the most aware of Enec, at 93%; some 87% of Emiratis emerge as strong endorsers of moving to a low-carbon energy source, and 86% agree with nuclear energy as a clean, reliable and efficient source of energy production.

Kantar TNS CEO, Stephen Hillebrand, said "Public surveys that capture the relative demographic nature of the country are vital for any new industry, especially one like nuclear energy which is known for polarizing views across the globe. The results of this opinion poll clearly show that the engagement and communication activities of Enec have resonated with the general public of the UAE."

Construction of the Barakah plant began in 2012. Unit 1 is now more than 94% complete and all four units together are more than 78% complete, Enec said.

Established by decree in December 2009, Enec represents all aspects of the UAE peaceful nuclear energy program. Nawah Energy Company, a subsidiary of Enec that is partially owned by the Korea Electric Power Corporation, has been mandated to safely operate and maintain the reactors in Barakah. Another Enec subsidiary, Barakah One, is responsible for the financial and commercial interests of the Barakah nuclear power plant project.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News