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UAE partners with Bill Gates’ nuclear firm to develop advanced reactors

The MoU outlines the potential of advanced reactors for grid-scale energy storage, hydrogen production, and industrial decarbonization

UAE partners with Bill Gates’ nuclear firm to develop advanced reactors
[Source photo: Pankaj Kirdatt/Fast Company Middle East]

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COP28 is uniting global leaders, policymakers, scientists, and activists in an urgent dialogue and proactive measures regarding climate change. The initial five days witnessed remarkable strides and cooperation.

Among the notable partnerships, the UAE aligned with Bill Gates’ TerraPower LLC, exploring the potential development and deployment of advanced reactors within and beyond.

This strategic partnership formalized through a memorandum of understanding (MoU), coincides with the UAE’s resolute drive to expand its nuclear energy capabilities. 

The collaboration extends beyond electricity generation. The MoU envisions exploring the potential of advanced reactors to store energy on the grid, providing the energy needed to produce hydrogen, a clean fuel source, and decarbonizing coal, steel, and aluminum plants.

“For the UAE, we’re looking for a future for the clean electrons and molecules that will be brought to reality by advanced reactors,” said Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of ENEC, during the signing ceremony.

“Bringing advanced nuclear technologies to market is critical to meeting global decarbonization targets,” said TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque.

The commitment aligns with the collective pledge made by over 20 nations at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, emphasizing the tripling of nuclear deployment this decade to combat climate change effectively.

The Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy highlights “the key role of nuclear energy in achieving global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and keeping the 1.5-degree goal within reach,” the US Department of Energy said.

Signatories include the US, France, Japan, South Korea, Poland, UAE, and the UK. With the UAE becoming the first Gulf nation to generate nuclear power, it is on track to meet 25% of its electricity needs with the Barakah power plant’s four reactors.

The UAE operates one conventional nuclear power plant near Abu Dhabi, which commenced electricity generation in 2020. 

Simultaneously, TerraPower is advancing its Natrium molten salt reactor demonstration project in Wyoming, US, with plans to bring it online by 2030.

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