Abu Dhabi studying next-generation nuclear to make hydrogen
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Abu Dhabi studying next-generation nuclear to make hydrogen

Abu Dhabi studying next-generation nuclear to make hydrogen

Hydrogen is considered a promising replacement for fossil fuels in the energy transition

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is studying new technologies to produce hydrogen in a bid to claim a slice of an industry that is growing as the world seeks to decarbonise.

High-temperature modular reactors could produce hydrogen more cheaply than current methods, Mohamed Al Hammadi, chief executive officer of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), said in an interview.

“We are in the phase of studying it right now, and we are evaluating it,” said Hammadi. “I see it as promising.” ENEC is working closely with the government to evaluate the technology, he said.

Hydrogen – particularly if it’s produced with few emissions – is considered a promising replacement for fossil fuels in the energy transition. Abu Dhabi plans to use it domestically for transportation as well as for export. The UAE is already a regional leader in the use of nuclear energy, an emissions-free source of electricity.

The UAE began operating the Arab world’s first commercial nuclear reactor in 2020. Electricity from that facility could be used to make hydrogen, Hammadi said.

The plant’s second 1.4-gigawatt reactor is poised to start producing power for the grid this year. The plant will have a capacity of 5.6 gigawatts when it’s fully-operational in 2025, supplying around 25 per cent of the country’s electricity needs.

Hammadi said the nation’s decision to invest in nuclear energy has been prudent, especially given the energy crunch in Europe, which has largely been driven by soaring natural gas prices.

“Today our investment in nuclear power is paying dividends,” said Hammadi. “We’ve seen the gas prices in Europe and we are producing 1,400 megawatts of electricity 24-7 from a reliable, safe, clean source of electricity.”

The UAE was the first of the Gulf’s petrostates to commit to eliminating planet-warming emissions within its borders by 2050. Other countries with a similar target should incorporate nuclear into their energy mix if they want to reach their net-zero emissions targets, Hammadi said.

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