Construction of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant began in 2012 and construction of Unit 1 is now complete, and the three other units are more than 88 per cent complete. Image Credit: Courtesy: Enec

Abu Dhabi: An independent national poll on nuclear energy shows the UAE public strongly supports the use of peaceful nuclear energy, with 82 per cent of residents in favour of using nuclear energy for generating electricity and 91 per cent stating that peaceful nuclear energy is important for the nation.

The poll was commissioned by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) and conducted by independent global market research specialists Nielsen. The survey is part of Enec’s commitment to community engagement and serves to assess UAE residents’ attitude to the UAE’s nuclear energy programme.

“Enec continues to maintain a strong commitment to transparency and public engagement to ensure widespread awareness and understanding about nuclear energy in the UAE,” said Mohammad Al Hammadi, chief executive officer of Enec.

“It is encouraging to know that so many UAE residents are aware of the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy and actively support the work we are doing at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, with 96 per cent of respondents believing that Enec is building the plant to the highest standards of quality and safety,” he added.

In comparison to the previous opinion poll conducted in 2016, awareness of the UAE’s nuclear energy programme has risen by seven per cent. Understanding and acceptance of the construction of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant among residents of Al Dhafra region and nationals throughout the UAE remains high.

“Enec is encouraged by the results of the study as UAE residents continue to support the development of peaceful nuclear energy and understand the strategic role it plays in powering the future growth of our nation. The UAE’s nuclear energy industry has already created thousands of high-value jobs in the country and continues to support the development of a knowledge-based economy and industrial capacity,” Al Hammadi said.

Enec is committed to providing the UAE community with accurate and up-to-date information about the UAE Nuclear Energy Programme in line with the UAE’s commitment to complete operational transparency. As a low-carbon energy source, nuclear energy will play an important role in the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, as well as supporting the delivery of the strategic initiatives identified in the Abu Dhabi Plan.

Arslan Ashraf, managing director, Arabian Peninsula & Pakistan of Nielsen, said the poll results were an indication of Enec’s public outreach programmes.

“Enec runs a comprehensive engagement and communication campaign to build the public perception and attitude towards nuclear energy and conducts regular public opinion surveys to measure the efficacy of the campaign.

“Results of the 2017 survey conducted by Nielsen have revealed that there is significant support among residents for the peaceful use of nuclear energy in the UAE. The survey also shows an improvement in perceptions with regards to nuclear energy and a high level of engagement with residents continues,” he added.

As part of the public opinion survey, over one thousand people were interviewed across the UAE, comprising respondents that reflect the demographics of the UAE.

Since its inception in 2009, Enec has focused on the safe delivery of the UAE’s nuclear energy programme. Construction began in 2012 and construction of Unit 1 is now complete, while all four units are more than 88 per cent complete. The plant will deliver clean, efficient and reliable electricity to the UAE grid, and will save up to 21 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year, equivalent to removing 3.2 million sedan cars from the roads.

Key findings of survey

91% of residents believe in the importance of having a peaceful nuclear energy programme

Awareness of the UAE nuclear energy programme has risen to 58%, up 7% from 2016

Support for the construction of peaceful nuclear energy plants in the UAE has risen to 83%, up 4% from 2016

94% of UAE nationals believe that the UAE nuclear energy programme will serve as a model for other nations, up 5% from 2016

88% of residents perceive that safety and security are the overall priorities of the UAE peaceful nuclear energy programme

82% of Al Dhafra region respondents consider nuclear energy a safe, clean, reliable and efficient way for electricity production

96% of residents believe that Enec is building the plants to the highest standards of safety and quality.