On the margins of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, UAE, this week, Barakah nuclear plant owner Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) signed its first commercial uranium fuel supply contract with Kazatomprom, in addition to memorandums of understanding with two U.S.-based advanced reactor developers—TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH).
According to a December 4 announcement from ENEC, the contract opens pathways for future collaboration between the UAE firm and the Kazakhstani uranium producer as the former builds on its diversified procurement strategy to ensure a secure and sustainable supply of nuclear fuel for the Barakah facility.
The signing took place during the official visit to the UAE of the president of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
“Signing this agreement with Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan, as the largest uranium producer globally, is strategically important for ENEC in further diversifying and securing fuel supplies,” stated Mohamed Al Hammadi, ENEC’s managing director and chief executive officer. “With a significant positive shift in many nations to include civil nuclear energy as part of their energy mix, security of supply for fuel is paramount. Adding Kazatomprom only boosts our roster of fuel partners further, ensuring a sustainable fuel supply for the generation of clean, 24/7 electricity and our plans for generation of clean heat, steam, and clean molecules like hydrogen, to decarbonize energy-intensive and heavy industry in the UAE and overseas.”
Kazatomprom CEO Meirzhan Yussupov commented, “We are proud that the first ever commercial contract between Kazatomprom and ENEC will mark the beginning of valuable and promising cooperation between our companies. We are excited to add the UAE to the nations to whom we supply and appreciate the recognition of Kazatomprom with its exceptional supply track record and sustainable market reputation as a part of the UAE’s energy security and net-zero agenda.”
The MOUs: Also on December 4, ENEC announced an MOU with TerraPower that calls for the companies to assess ways to optimize the use of TerraPower’s Natrium technology for grid stability through energy storage capabilities. The MOU will enable both parties to analyze opportunities to collaborate on engineering, workforce, and supply chain development, supporting projects within the UAE with potential secondments of Emirati engineers to TerraPower’s headquarters in the United States, the announcement said.
The pact was signed by Ahmed Al Mazroui, nuclear research and development vice president of ENEC, and Chris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower. Among the attendees at the signing ceremony were Al Hammadi, TerraPower chairman Bill Gates, and David Livingston, senior advisor to John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate.
“Our new agreement with TerraPower will facilitate cooperation in taking nuclear energy technology to the next level,” said Al Hammadi, “by accelerating its deployment and its use for innovating new solutions, including the production of clean molecules and hydrogen.”
Levesque said that the two firms “are leading the way in deploying nuclear plants, and this agreement allows us to share our expertise and design experience and explore the opportunity for deployment of Natrium reactors around the world, including additional locations in the United States.”
ENEC’s MOU with GEH, announced December 3, will enable teams from the two firms to assess potential opportunities to implement affordable, clean nuclear energy using GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 reactor plant design, according to the announcement. The MOU also includes a potential framework for ENEC to lead a broader regional deployment of BWRX-300 SMRs in the Middle East and Africa.
“[The MOU] is a testament to our leading role in the future of clean energy in the region as we explore the integration of advanced nuclear technologies and the use of state-of-the-art SMRs around the world,” Al Hammadi said. “Our journey in developing the Barakah nuclear energy plant, the region’s largest single-source clean electricity generator, has given us unparalleled expertise that encompasses the entire spectrum of nuclear energy. This extensive knowledge base positions ENEC and the UAE at the forefront of the regional and global clean energy transition.”
GE Vernova CEO Scott Strazik added, “Nuclear power is critical to decarbonizing the energy sector and achieving the net-zero carbon emission goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. We are honored to advance our partnership with ENEC and proud to be the first corporate partner for Net Zero Nuclear, an initiative cosponsored by ENEC and the World Nuclear Association, calling for collaboration to triple global nuclear capacity to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.”