Key nuclear bodies in the works for UAE

04 August 2008

Dubailand Ski Dome
How will the UAE generate the power it needs for megaprojects like the forthcoming Dubailand Ski Dome?

Planners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have made agreements with Thorium Power toward setting up a national nuclear energy company and independent regulator.


The five-year deals, which come with a $17 million prepayment for the first six months' work, were announced by Thorium Power on 1 August. The US-based firm said it would provide strategic advice on the development and launch of an independent nuclear safety regulator, to be called the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation. More advice will be given on the structuring and launch of a company called Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), which will be a vehicle of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.


Enec will take the role of a 'nuclear energy program implementation office' as recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been liaising with the UAE as it does with the many other countries interested in nuclear energy.


Thorium Power will recieve $10 million of its prepayment when the deals are signed off by the government of Abu Dhabi, and another $7 million when the two new organisations are up and running. Further payments would come during the remainder of the five year period, Thorium Power told WNN.


These agreements come after Thorium Power helped the UAE develop its overall strategy for the introduction of nuclear energy. The company is best known for its efforts to license thorium-based light-water reactor fuel for wider use, but chief operating officer Erik Hallstrom said: "Our consulting business gives us the oportunity to generate revenue early in the nuclear renaissance while simultaneously pursuing longer-term upside from our technology licensing business."


Thorium Power's consultancy work helped the UAE to develop the white paper on nuclear power it published in April this year.


Predictions in the white paper showed electricity demand growing from around 15 GWe today to almost 41 GWe in 2020 - a growth rate of about 7% per year. The country plans to use nuclear energy to meet part of this demand, as well as to meet needs in industrial processes such as desalinating seawater. A partnership agreement already exists between nuclear technology provider Areva and the oil firms Total and Suez to build a power and desalination plant based on two 1600 MWe Areva EPR units in the UAE.