The development of a peaceful nuclear energy program was based on an in-depth evaluation of the UAE’s future energy needs. The evaluation study determined that national annual peak demand for electricity is expected to rise to more than 40,000 megawatts by 2020, reflecting a cumulative annual growth rate of about 9 percent from 2007.
As a result, the UAE considered the available options to meet this demand. The evaluation resulted in the following realizations:
- Natural gas could be made available to the nation's electricity sector but it would be insufficient to meet future demand.
- The burning of liquids (crude oil and/or diesel) would be logistically viable but costly and extremely harmful to the environment.
- Coal-fired power generation, while potentially cheaper, would be environmentally unacceptable, and potentially vulnerable from a security of supply standpoint.
- Finally, deployment of renewable and other alternative energy supplies, while desirable, would be able to supply only 6 to 7 percent of the required electricity generation capacity by 2020.
The UAE government determined that nuclear power was the most viable and compelling solution to meet the UAE’s energy needs.
In April 2008, the UAE released its Policy on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy. The policy is built on the most rigorous standards of safety, transparency and security, making the UAE a role model for nuclear energy development worldwide.
The Policy of the United Arab Emirates on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy focuses on the following key commitments:
- Complete operational transparency
- Commitment to the highest standards of non-proliferation
- Commitment to the highest standards of safety and security
- Working directly with the International Atomic Energy Agency
- Close partnership with the governments and businesses of responsible nations
- Long-term sustainability
The UAE policy also established the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) as an independent body to oversee the UAE’s Nuclear Energy sector. This includes that the work of both the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and Nawah conforms to international standards as set by the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA.)
In addition, to strengthen its ties with the international nuclear community, the UAE has also signed bilateral agreements for cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear energy with numerous countries, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States.