Survey finds growing support in UAE

19 March 2013

Public support for nuclear energy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues to grow, with 82% of respondents to a nationwide opinion poll in favour of the country's nuclear energy program. The new survey also revealed a shift in the national mindset regarding energy sources.

First concrete at Barakah (Enec)_200
Construction formally began at Barakah in 2012 (Image: Enec)

The newly released results of a study by independent global market research company TNS reveal current levels of support for the UAE's nuclear energy program to be significantly higher than the 66% recorded in a similar survey one year ago. Furthermore, the survey found increased awareness of nuclear energy. Some 55% of respondents identified nuclear energy as a main source of power generation, second only to oil - indicative of a "significant shift in the national mindset", according to TNS.

Since the previous poll, construction has formally started on the first two units of the UAE's first nuclear power plant at Barakah. An application to build a second pair of reactors at the site was recently submitted to the national nuclear regulator by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec).

The number of respondents feeling that they knew the UAE's nuclear energy program very well or fairly well had increased by 11% from 2011, while 89% of residents now felt that peaceful nuclear energy is "extremely important, very important or important" for the UAE. TNS CEO Stephan Hamilton-Clark said the findings of the poll showed a "clear link" between awareness of benefits and public support for policy decisions. "The latest research indicates ... that as awareness and understanding of the program and the technology has grown, support for civil nuclear energy in the UAE continues to increase amongst residents," he said.

The survey saw a decline in concerns related to overall safety of nuclear power plants, which TNS attributed to efforts spearheaded by the national government, Enec and other nuclear industry bodies in the UAE. However, some work remained to be done to reassure the public about nuclear waste disposal, the company said.

The findings are taken from face-to-face interviews using a structured questionnaire carried out with 750 UAE residents in December 2012.

Enec's director of external affairs and communications Fahad Al Qahtani commented, "Support for nuclear energy continues to steadily grow as the community learns more about the benefits a peaceful nuclear energy program can provide to the UAE. From an energy security and sustainability perspective, nuclear energy has an important role to play in our nation's energy mix, and residents understand this connection."

Al Qahtani noted, "Since the very beginning, we have been committed to a comprehensive public education and engagement program, and to regular and transparent communications. We believe this program has been essential in garnering the high level of support for nuclear energy in the UAE."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Filed under: Public opinion, UAE