Survey shows 85% of UAE residents support the country’s nuclear energy programme

Survey shows 85% of UAE residents support the country’s nuclear energy programme
Published: 16 July 2019 - 12:12 p.m.
By: Baset Asaba

A new national poll on nuclear energy has shown that UAE residents are in favour of, and have a strong understanding of the UAE’s peaceful nuclear energy programme, with 85 per cent of residents in favour.

The poll revealed some of the highest ‘favourability’ rates for nuclear energy in the world — higher than any other nuclear energy producing nations. The survey was commissioned by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) and was conducted in 2018 by the independent global market research company Nielsen. The purpose of the survey was to support the development of effective educational initiatives about both the UAE’s nuclear energy programme and Enec.

The poll has shown a slight increase in favorability rate which was 83 per cent in 2017. In addition, the poll revealed that 78 per cent of UAE residents believe that the benefits of nuclear energy outweigh its risks.

For the Al Dhafra region — where the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant plant will be located — the poll revealed a significant increase in favourability of the UAE programme, from 84 per cent in 2017 to 94 per cent in 2018. In addition, 93 per cent of Al Dhafra residents consider nuclear energy to be a safe, clean, reliable and efficient way for electricity production, up from 82 per cent in 2017.

“The results of this public opinion poll demonstrate Enec’s adherence to its mission of being transparent to the UAE public, providing them with the most recent news and engaging with them in regards to the development of the peaceful nuclear energy industry,” said Mohammad Al Hammadi, chief executive officer of Enec.

“We are delighted to see the trust our communities place in Enec, reflected in the UAE public’s responses. These results validate our efforts of raising public awareness of the UAE programme,” he added.

Residents’ perceptions of nuclear energy have also evolved, with positive understanding towards the sustainability of nuclear energy improving significantly. Eighty per cent of residents believe that nuclear energy can generate electricity in a safe, clean, reliable, and efficient way, and 87 per cent think that the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity will support the UAE’s transition to low-carbon energy resources.

The survey also revealed that 91 per cent of UAE residents reported that they trust Enec, and 98 per cent of residents believe that Enec always puts safety first. In addition, 96 per cent think that Enec is ensuring that the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is being built according to the highest standards of quality and safety, and 86 per cent think that Enec is transparent in their operations and communications.

As part of the public opinion survey, over 1,000 people were interviewed across the UAE, including male and female UAE nationals and expatriate residents. Construction of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is progressing steadily. As of the end of March 2019, the overall construction of the four units is more than 93 per cent complete. Unit 4 is more than 82 per cent complete, Unit 3 is more than 91 per cent complete and Unit 2 is more than 95 per cent completed.

Unit 1 construction is complete and is currently undergoing commissioning and testing, prior to regulatory review and receipt of the Operating License (OL) from the FANR (Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation). FANR recently certified the first group of 15 UAE national senior reactor operators (SROs) and reactor operators (ROs) at Nawah Energy Company, the operations and maintenance subsidiary of Enec.

Key findings of the 2018 survey

  • 65% of residents demonstrated awareness of the UAE peaceful nuclear energy programme, as compared to 58% in 2017.
  • 78% of residents believe that the benefits of nuclear energy outweigh its risks, as compared to 77% in 2017.
  • 85% of the UAE residents are in favour of the programme. As compared to 83% in 2017.
  • 94% of Al Dhafra residents are in favour of the programme as compared to 84% in 2017.
  • 93% of Al Dhafra residents consider nuclear energy is a safe, clean reliable and efficient way for electricity production, up from 82% in 2017.
  • 96% of residents believe that Enec is ensuring that the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is being built to the highest standards of quality and safety, which is the same percentage in 2017.

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