The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has signed a Letter of Intent with Électricité de France (EDF) to develop a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on research and development in the nuclear energy sector.
The collaboration is part of ENEC’s commitment towards progressing the UAE’s nuclear energy industry, supporting innovation, clean electricity production and tackling climate change. The planned MoU will elevate the strategic partnership between the two entities through sharing global expertise and the latest advancements in the nuclear energy sector, as well as exploring the production of green hydrogen powered by carbon-free nuclear energy.
EDF is a French multinational electric utility company, largely owned by the French state. As the leading nuclear operator of the largest nuclear fleet worldwide, EDF is supporting the global energy transition movement by exporting its expertise in low-carbon energies, such as nuclear energy, renewable energies, and energy services.
Since November 2018, EDF has provided ENEC’s operations and maintenance JV subsidiary Nawah Energy Company (Nawah) with a range of services. These include operational safety, radiation protection, fuel cycle management and environmental monitoring. Expertise is provided through engineering studies, on-site support, training and benchmarking sessions.
This year’s signing took place at the annual E-FUSION event, which aims to develop new Franco-Emirati commercial relations in the nuclear sector.
Xavier Chatel, ambassador of France to the UAE, highlighted the “incredible achievements” that the UAE has made in the field of nuclear energy, and said that both sides can work together to achieve much more in the field over the next few years.
Speaking at the event on Tuesday morning, Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of ENEC, said that 2021 was an important year for the UAE’s nuclear energy sector. “Together, we are working to harness the expertise of the French nuclear industry to develop our national nuclear industry.”
“Strategically speaking, this is a crucial time for the UAE’s nuclear energy programme,” he added. “Unit 1 at Barakah is now commercially operational, while Unit 2 is scheduled to be operational in a few months, and Units 3 and 4 are set to come online in a couple of years. France has enjoyed great success in being a global leader in the field of clean nuclear energy, and we look forward to working with them in developing our safe and clean energy goals.”
ENEC’s Barakah Plant is one of the largest nuclear energy plants in the world, with four APR-1400 Units. Construction of the plant began in 2012 and has progressed steadily ever since. Unit 1 started commercial operations in April 2021, and Unit 2 has now completed the fuel load process and is working through all the required processes before start-up. Construction of Units 3 and 4 are in the final stages, with the units standing at 94 per cent and 89 per cent completion respectively. Construction of the Barakah Plant as a whole is now more than 95 per cent complete.
Ali Al Hammadi, CEO of Nawah, noted that France has more than 60 years of experience in safely delivering clean energy through a mature and well established supply chain. “We are committed to working closely with the French nuclear community to benefit from their knowledge and expertise as well as developing our local supply chain. We need companies that are committed to continuously upholding the highest qualifications in the design, manufacturing, testing, installing and maintenance of the nuclear energy sector.”
Herve Maillart, head coordinator of the French Nuclear supply Chain, explained that the French nuclear industry invests €1 billion in R&D every year. “The nuclear sector is France’s second largest industrial sector, currently made up of 3,200 companies which support 220,000 direct and indirect jobs. I am also happy to say that 85 per cent of these companies are small and medium-sized enterprises. More than 120 reactors are operated thanks to French technology in the world, and the French industry delivers services to 250 reactors around the world.”
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