Suhail Mohammed Faraj Al Mazrouie, U.A.E. Minister of Energy, told a visiting delegation of foreign correspondents who are currently visiting the U.A.E. at the invitation of the National Media Council (NMC), that 25% of the nation’s energy needs will be supplied from nuclear resources by the year 2020.
Speaking at a press conference organized by the NMC at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the minister reiterated the need for transparency across the board as the U.A.E. joins the nations using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
After welcoming the guests, Al Mazrouie congratulated the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Their Highnesses the Supreme Coincil members and Rulers of the Emirates, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, on the occasion of the 42nd National Day and the historic victory in winning the bid for EXPO 2020 in the city of Dubai.
The minister then gave a brief outline of the policies and strategies adopted by the government with regard to the energy sector since the formation of the Federation in 1971, emphasizing that a key element of the success of the energy sector, particularly petroleum, was cooperation with international companies, which has led the U.A.E. to be one of the leading oil exploration and producing nations in the world.
"We in the UAE now use a variety of resources to produce electrical power, and we have three objectives as we move to the next phase: firstly, reduce our use of diesel fuel in our power stations by moving to 100% gas use. Secondly, we are expanding our use of alternative energy sources by investing in, and using more, solar power. Thirdly, our progression into the peaceful use of nuclear resources will see approximately 25% of our electricity generated from nuclear power stations by the year 2020, beginning with our Mega-Project, Shams 1, with a 100Mw capacity." The Minister went on to highlight the importance of ensuring that the nation’s citizens and residents, especially the young, must be given the means to learn about energy efficiency in order to conserve valuable resources and not put a strain on the availability of electricity and water, a point he referred to throughout his presentation.
"In the U.A.E. and across the GCC, our resources are limited, so it is of vital importance that our schools and universities help to educate our population in the benefits of conservation and efficiency in order to preserve these resources for future generations." During a vibrant Q&A session, the minister was asked his opinion of the fracking process of producing shale oil and gas, and how its increased production in the U.S. and Europe may affect the market for traditionally produced oil in the Middle East.
"In my view", he said, "The shale oil and gas boom is complementary to our forms of production. Will the US ever be self-sufficient in gas and oil? I think it will. But will the US be able to export to the rest of the world? That is open to discussion. Fracking may be the future for the US, but the Gulf States? market is to the east, and that is where we have a secure marketplace. Our 4th largest trading partner is producing in the Gulf of Thailand, and we are established there, we make a difference by already being a major player in the market." Stressing the need to establish Gulf-wide sustainable sources of energy, the minister touched on the subject of the GCC Electricity Grid, saying that the system is in place.
"The GCC states have been able to link together for electricity, this is now accomplished and we can distribute power from Kuwait to Oman, but there are other factors, like trade exchange, which have a bearing on the matter. Pricing and usage differ in the Gulf, so first we must have efficient usage of energy, within both the U.A.E. and the GCC. We are also looking at studying similar projects for water supply. " Speaking about cooperation in the energy fields with other countries, Al Mazroui briefly illustrated some projects currently in operation or under review, including investment projects in Egypt and Morocco, and a solar power plant in Mauritania, which has a target of providing 20% of that country’s needs.
Asked about the effect that winning the right to host EXPO 2020 in Dubai would have on the energy sector, the minister said, "Energy is a means of connection, we cannot mobilize without it, so sustainable supply is vital. We hope that by then we will be producing 25% of our needs from peaceful nuclear sources. We also hope that by then we will have a wise population who can contribute to efficient use of energy. We also aim to make the EXPO 2020 site an energy neutral site. By this time, our example will be a model we can export to the world, as a beacon for others to follow." The minister said that the U.A.E. is now in the forefront of research into alternative energy, and is proud to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, in Abu Dhabi. "Our accomplishments have not happened by chance, but because of plans and teamwork. It is thanks to our wise leadership that we trust the young of our nation, which is something you do not find everywhere. We have a number of young leaders in the Cabinet," the minister concluded.
Emirates News Agency (WAM)