UAE & Bulgaria embrace nuclear power's renewable energy

By Helen Adams
Steps are being taken to meet sustainability goals with nuclear power in Bulgaria and the United Arab Emirates. Here's how nuclear power is so sustainable

Nuclear power plants create renewable electricity and have little negative impact on the environment. Nuclear power plants require comparatively little land (unlike solar energy) and the ominous gas belching out of the school-sized chimneys, is simply steam

But after the desolating 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster and the widely-celebrated Sky miniseries, Chernobyl (2019) which chronicled the 1986 explosion, the potential threats of nuclear power have terrified many people.

However, accidents are rare and the 440 remaining nuclear power plants provide the planet with a reliable form of renewable energy, which will still be available long after coal and oil have run out.


United Arab Emirates ‘step forward’ in nuclear energy

Upcoming operations at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant are a strategic step towards diversifying the energy mix in the Gulf nation, promoting clean energy and ensuring sustainability.

“Launching operations at the Barakah plant – the first Arab peaceful nuclear power plant – demonstrates the UAE’s ability to execute pioneering global projects, guided by the vision of its wise leadership and with the hard work and dedication of Emirati scientists and specialists”, said His Excellency Eng. Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE). “Day after day, the UAE is cementing its status as a leading contributor to international efforts to curb climate change with pragmatic steps on the ground. This, in turn, supports the country’s aspirations to play a greater role in achieving global sustainable development goals and protecting the environment.”

The renewable energy generated at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant will:

  • Cut CO2 emissions by nearly 21 million tonnes.
  • Support the DoE’s efforts to benefit from other clean energy sources, such as green hydrogen. 
  • The plant will enhance security of future energy supplies, develop the Abu Dhabi energy sector and its contributions towards the UAE Energy Strategy 2050.
  • Most importantly, this will allow the UAE to meet its global climate commitments.


Nuclear power remains dominant in Bulgaria

Half of Bulgaria’s electricity demand is fueled by nuclear power generation and it is expected to remain the dominant source until 2030.

“Bulgaria’s electricity market is currently in transition”, said Pavan Vyakaranam, Practice Head at GlobalData. “With the government slowly decreasing its coal power capacity in order to replace it with renewable power capacity. During this shift, the government plans to rely on nuclear power generation to meet the major electricity demand. Nuclear power generation was 15.9 TWh in 2020, making its share 44% in total power generation in the country and this is expected to remain above 40% until 2030.”

In January, the Bulgarian cabinet approved plans for the construction of a seventh unit at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, using Russian-supplied equipment purchased for the Belene project. 


Renewable energy is not entirely green

The positive outcomes of nuclear energy outweigh the potential threats, but other forms of renewable energy also have negative impacts on the planet. 

Solar panels have a life-expectancy of 20 years and will need to be replaced, adding to landfill. 

Both wind turbines and hydroelectric dams require concrete and the main ingredient, cement, emits greenhouse gasses in production. 


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