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Barakah - A Nuclear Success Story

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi

Monday, April 10, 2023

Chris Keefer  0:00  

Welcome back to decouple today I'm joined by His Excellency Mohammed Al Hammadi. Is excellency is the Managing Director and CEO of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, which has led successfully in delivering the UAS peaceful nuclear energy program. Mohammed is also the president of the World Association of nuclear operators, which is, I think, a huge honor, particularly for a nation which is so brand new into the nuclear scene. Very, very excited to have you on Muhammad. It's a real honor. You have just broken your fast as the holy month of Ramadan. So thank you so much for making time for us during this special time of the year.

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  0:40  

Thank you, Chris. My pleasure and honor to to be with you in this podcast. And we'd like also to congratulate you and your program that the couple that you've done a great success by bringing like minded people and getting people excited about the nuclear industry.

Chris Keefer  0:59  

Yeah, the seeds of this conversation, I think were actually the IEA ministerial events, which you attended, I think you met a frequent guest of the podcast, Mark Nelson there. And you mentioned that you'd heard him speaking on the podcast. So it's, it's wonderful to hear all the places that were listened to sometimes they check in or download and more than 100 countries around the world. But the UAE does pop up in that list. So it's wonderful tying this whole nuclear community together around the world. And a lot of eyes are on the United Arab Emirates, what is being accomplished and has been accomplished with the build at the baraka site, is truly remarkable and inspiring, particularly as we're really sensing a shift in, let's say, the the trade winds blowing in the sails of nuclear energy around the world. In my own country, big developments are happening. And I think just globally, as we're weathering this energy crisis, nuclear is very much back on the table. So a lot of interest, my listeners have been clamoring for some discussion of, of what has exactly occurred in the UAE. So Muhammad, maybe you could take us back to the early days, this project, like any well executed projects had many many years of planning in it. Before even the first shovels were breaking soil. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the UAE in terms of its its energy needs? And you know, what, what was the planning that went into looking at what what some of the options might be for meeting some of the energy needs of of your growing country and economy.

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  2:34  

thank Chris for the introduction and very, again, honored here to be speaking to you about our, our program here in the UAE and also about the way as a nation. The planning was kicked off and initiated in 2006, there was a lot of energy studies were done to find what are the best energy sources for the nation to enable security of supply and the same time do it in a sustainable manner. And that's where the multi projects were kicked off, there was a renewable project were kicked off the nuclear project was also kicked off. And fast forward to today, we managed to do to kind of become a leader in the nuclear industry, I would say. And we managed to have four units under construction, and three units are operational as we speak. And that is a transformational change for the energy mix in the UAE. So we have renewable energy, we have nuclear energy today. And that was done through a very deliberate detailed planning from the early days of the of those projects.

Chris Keefer  3:49  

And so this was a major commitment. I've heard, you know, the the Emirates are known as well for your wonderful airline industry as well. But in terms of a capital expenditure, this is quite large, perhaps the largest, really in the history of the Emirates. What what drove that enthusiasm for nuclear energy after doing this, I guess, technologically agnostic assessment of how to meet the country's needs? Why did you end up deciding on nuclear?

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  4:19  

I think it's a simple economics and simple math. When you look at the energy density of nuclear power plants, it's a very dense energy and other key aspects of nuclear medicine being also clean source of energy, it is safe, reliable, and produces abundance of energy and and trans 24/7. And that's a very key when it comes to energy security when it comes to energy planners, myself as electrical engineer, by early in my career, I did network evaluation network studies and did not leave the team I was working as a team member that time was a young engineer. I I always wanted a baseload electricity, I always wanted something that will keep the grid stable and secure. And if your energy and nuclear power plants meet all of the above, it's clean, it is safe, it is reliable, and runs 24/7. And the economics of it also is very good. And looking as today, we are enjoying baseload over three units, roughly around 30 terawatts of our year, by the way of those three units, we look for the fourth unit, we will have 40 terawatts our electricity in a sustainable, clean manner. And that enables also to be able to put more other sources of energy like renewable atoms on the grid. So nuclear energy meets many parameters that for any technical person, or even a commercial person makes a lot of sense.

Chris Keefer  5:57  

Can you tell me a little bit about the choices that were made? There were obviously a number of vendors that you looked at. I mean, a number of countries now like Poland, for instance, are looking into becoming nuclear nations. And I'm sure your country as well, in this early process was investigating. Okay, which, you know, now we've decided on nuclear, which, which vendor, are we going to go with? What What were some of the factors that that guided the choices that were ultimately made in terms of who you chose to go with?

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  6:24  

Because that's a great question, actually, looking back on the history of our project. And even today, when I look at and engage with my colleagues and in Romania, and also in America, like Poland, and Hungary and Czech, for me, it's like a deja vu, deja vu looking at 2008 and nine, and kind of really reliving those moments of who will be the best vendor as of today, who will be the best supplier who will be the best partner, to be able to replicate and do this all over again. And but there's good potential of success stories today, you have the AP, AP 1400, you have also the 1000. And you have the different technologies, which is work commissioned and operational. So if I advise somebody what will be the best vendor to pick, you need a vendor who did deliver, and then the last at least five to 10 years, and you need a partner that could break make those deals, bankable deals, so they could be financed by banks and just just by the government. And we've done that here in the UAE, we managed to structure a deal, that is legally and commercially bank bankable, we managed to we managed to do it in a very good terms for the purchaser work the city at the same time, also for the vendors and the partners. And if you look at the way today, we have the Koreans are partners and Baraka. They own around 18% of this of those power plants in Morocco. So that gives them also skin in the game of a win win. And that's something also we've we are very happy to have. And today I'd say the world's in a better position when to build nuclear power plants I did. That was a nine and eight, there was a lot of people who are competing to the nuclear power plants and I can give you my personal struggle at that time. I was I was we were ranked like number 40 and a pecking order of priorities projects. Then we were climbing up the ladder to become the top five projects for those vendors. I remember I used to talk to companies, and where they will tell us we are not interested, we have other countries who want to build this. And we are we are committed. And when the financial crisis happened, some of the projects were cancelled. So we were kind of up the ladder. They weren't when we are, we are on our competition globally, and a very huge zoo use the world military style of commitment of meeting the milestones and very rigorous, great project management capabilities in our team. And I'm very proud of our team success at that and that in that endeavor. We managed to cocreator climb the ladder and we become the top two or even we became we became the top project in the world. And companies were competing for you mentioned countries. Everybody wants competing for our project was a lot of interest and appetite. And I remember around closing of the selection of the successful bidder. Everybody wants it to be our partner. And initially also when we selected our partner, which is the Koreans. We've also kept everybody in a good power because we knew the undersea small I need everybody to help. So everybody is now still helping us and our success journey of the four units.

Chris Keefer  9:38  

You mentioned this sense of deja vu that you have looking at the world right now. You're reminded I think of of the position that you're in. There's been many challenges that have come up over the course of of your project and completing it as as you are, essentially on schedule and on budget is all the more remarkable given that as you mentioned, the global financial crisis struck The Fukushima accident occurred and most recently, the COVID pandemic. Maybe tell us a little bit about how each of those crises affected the project and how you managed to sail through those stormy waters?

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  10:16  

Well, okay, that's a, that'll take a lot of questions to pick up on. So I will summarize. Actually, I was reading a book on how to get big things done. And yeah, this is very interesting book and goes back to the if you know, the Nobel Prize winner and psychology of Thinking Fast and Slow. And that individual brings the analogy of, you have to plan slowly and execute fast. I will tell you, in going back in 2008, we did a lot of planning I used to spend with the team. Hours and hours we'll go come in the office early in the morning, we leave around nine to 10pm Every night, including weekends, just to plan this thoroughly. And my one of my Forte's is project management, my master degree actually engineering management. So I enjoy doing work breakdown structures and doing detailed Ws, where the team kind of gets worn out until they get to the bottom of those stability and work breakdown structures. I enjoy that. So that deliberate detailed planning, we did that really pay dividends. And we've done it in a very thorough manner. Anyway, we do make we do make projects, but we all NGOs and other industries, we do gigantic projects here in the in the UAE. And as you rightly said the nuclear project was the biggest commercial projects on this a project in the UAE history. But we are used to big projects. So that deliberate planning helpless Allah to mitigate a lot of risks. So we always kind of plan in details for I won't say Black Swans, but a COVID. But we always planned for what could be the worst scenarios and what our mitigations so everything we did, we had three to four to four scenarios as backup plans and always plan B guaranteed fails, we had always planned. So plan it fails, and plan B is always there. So you have all of them mixture between the plans that we've we've put together we've succeeded on. So I contribute deliberate planning. And what we did also Chris, a very thorough selection and bringing people from all over the world to come and help us in the project. So any niche area of expertise we needed, we tapped into the expertise globally. Even a project management, we went to the best project managers in the world, and a member of PMI, which is the Project Management Institute for the last 20 years now. And and we've also engaged with my colleagues there to help us in the project planning phase, the nuclear industry, we remember in the early days, we just signed a contract to do the construction. And by that time, I've already hire the CNO on that project, and I've heard this you're not on your job is not to operate the power plant, the power plant will be ready and 12 years from today. Your job is to plan the manpower, what cannabis plant manager we will need what kind of a QoS program and a QA program we need to establish what kind of management system we need to we need to have. So I was asking him, look at 10 years, this is the state of things look like, now draw me a line how we will get there from today. I remember the guy was frustrated with me, but and we've we had, we had a couple of sea animals in that last 10 years. But each one of them we did a fantastic job in helping us under thorough planning and imagining the next phases and what I bring. What I'm really proud of is the human capital that we managed to develop and develop over the over the years, we managed to bring the best talent from all over the world. We had also the young, very young and very talented people from the from the UAE and also from all over the world who did get groomed and developed. And looking at the UAE in 2009. We had almost no nuclear engineers in the country, we didn't have much of expertise in the in this field. So for the young people, we send them for scholarships, they went to us men, Georgia Tech benefit other schools to learn the bachelor degree and some of them did master degrees and also PhDs. And then nuclear science and then when they come back, they easily kind of a plugin and they are easy to work easy to fit in the environment of the nuclear industry in the way because they got all the basic training. They learned an environment where they can rub shoulders with experts and grow very fast and become a qualified. I can share a story with you Chris on Unit Two by the way. 20 critical Barbae one of the young Emirati engineers, who was she was trained in Westinghouse in the US. She was a trained also in Korea. She did also plant life plans kind of a training she did that 12 hours in the middle of the night. 12 hours a day. She got groomed and qualified to become A senior reactor operator and she did a fantastic job taking us to critical and that's something which is also makes me very proud.

Chris Keefer  15:12  

So would you agree then that human factors, I mean, there's so many challenges to pulling off a project like this and going from a nation without a nuclear program to a nation operating for some of the largest reactors in the world. It sounds like human factors are such a huge part of that. And it'd be interesting to hear, you've given us the example of the woman that brought unit to to criticality. What's the impact throughout Emirati society, people talk a lot about nuclear in the way that it elevates people in terms of you know, human capacity in terms of their level of education, be that with a nuclear engineering or within the skilled trades, what sort of opportunities has the baraka complex opened up for within an Emirati society?

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  15:54  

Yeah. So if I can just give you a bit of background over the UAE before I talk to you about the talent. So UAE has around 200 nationalities, by the way, people living here in the UAE in a very successful environment, we encourage talent to come to the UAE, we will actually reward talent to come and join the workforce here in the UAE. And nuclear is that especially it's also it's very welcoming to bring talent to the UAE. So we've managed to bring the best talent in the world. To the young, we continue to bring talent, high talent, top talent to the UAE, the nuclear industry, what it opened for, specifically for the young people here in the UAE is the industry where you can add real value. You can nuclear power plants, as you know, very low density energy. So each individual can bring megawatts of electricity contributed clean electricity to the nation. So that pride factor and those people that are very proud to work with them as a colleague, very, very proud, they see the contribution to to net zero by 2050. By their work by their contribution. And in the in the in the the power plant. Operation Omen the low, low, the local operators in the field, even the construction team, the projects are very, very proud. So if I can take this and give you their what their family members, think of them what the nation think of those people. They everybody is very proud of the contribution they are doing. And the Pride goes because the UAE and the public here in the UAE are very aware of the benefits benefits of the nuclear if you do a survey, and the way we've done the surveys over the last 10 years, and we've seen a constant acceptance level of nuclear industry. We are on the way public acceptance out 80 plus percent of nuclear industry, which is I think, maybe the highest in the world today. And that didn't come from just buy a product, it came because we did a lot of investment in educating people about the technical aspects and the safety of the nuclear industry. In 2008, and nine, when we surveyed, what's the public opinion of nuclear came as a standard number 162 to 65% of public opinion, when you go and ask them? Are you? I enjoyed that question I will ask them do you know that we can make from nuclear economic power plant I mean electricity. And I would say 90% people who didn't know about it. So when you talk about that, no, it's for civilian purposes, and it will help the nation to grow and prosper and provide clean electricity. And these are lots of facts we got kind of pushed to the public. You mentioned the the Fukushima that was an opportunity for us people were were wanting to know what's happening. And they had they wanted to understand radiation between alpha beta gamma and what our with our homes and our walls. And I don't know if you remember the all the stories of non science, non scientific basis stories, we've gone all over the world. And the UAE people were much more aware. They knew about radiation, they knew about the the basic physics of it. So it gave a bigger boost of interest. Even in the Arabic media, we've worked with the IAEA. And we've taken some of the Arabic content, translated some of the Arabic content content and pushed and then we gave it for free in the social media. There's a lot of interest at that moment, where pay dividends by educating people. And that's something sometimes when when people talk about nuclear industry, that kind of I feel not that easy. I would say when people don't understand that physics, and they talk about their industry, when they don't understand the science behind and also they come and they claim to understand it and they give numbers and facts and when you go and dig those numbers and analyze them. And then not based on science, based on feelings, on fears on speculations and sometimes of the things go viral on social media, and people pick on it and become an expert in this field and That's something I think nuclear industry still suffers from that because of, of the lack of facts about the industry.

Chris Keefer  20:08  

It's interesting, I was moved back to this, this fact, in terms of attitudes and France, which is, you know, nation power to 75% by nuclear energy and the young people there. Many of them believe that what comes out of the cooling towers is actually carbon or smoke. And it correlates the age cutoff at which that belief becomes predominant correlates with the September 11 attacks and the high schoolers no longer touring nuclear plants and no longer being educated in this way. In UAE, is there the opportunity for Emiratis to see the plan to tour it? How do you kind of open up the technology and make it accessible to people? It sounds like that was a big part of the efforts right from the beginning of the process.

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  20:52  

Yeah, that's, that's actually a great point, thank you for raising it, I would, I would say, as your nuclear power plants, you kind of have tours in them because of security. And also convenience, we don't want to bother the operators and the crew work in the power plant. But what we do is, we do virtual tours, we use the technology available, people can wear the goggles, I'm walking up on a plan. We do take this to schools, by the way, we have over 50 to 60 events per year, we reach out to the teachers, we have to reach out to the schools to educate them, we do public forums up very open public forums. And we talked very transparently about what's happening in the industry globally, what's happening in the power plant, we do share a lot of our data and our greater costs everything on their website, there is a lot of data, not getting that good given to the people we are overdoing it, I would say, to encourage people to know about the industry, we're overdoing it, to also get people to understand how this technology works. And there is great interest and if I can go back the pride of the young people and the pride of people of the nation on this advanced technology and making them interested also instant at work. It gives us dividends all over the many, many, many angles. One thing by the way, also in the UAE repeat, we have, we have a big problem, we have a very nice problem. By the way, we have more woman invested interested in STEM education than the men almost seven to one, a nice problem that I have for four daughters. So I'm very happy for them to enjoy stem or join the STEM curriculum. And this nuclear industry provide those jobs for them nuclear power plants when it comes to operation of nuclear power plants. As you know, this power plants are very clean. And also very convenient to work on. Almost like you're walking in and as clean as hospital when it comes to those four points. And that also makes this those jobs are convenient for for men and women. And that's something also it's we were the first industry to attract women to work in the nuclear power plants. We were also why was it the first woman Woman and nuclear conference in the Middle East ever, and was very proud to be on but also got we had over 300 international guests came we had a total of around 700 people came and learned from the woman nuclear industry and the leaders of nuclear industry that got also the young woman we have here in the in the power plant to aspire to be CEOs and CIOs and plant managers, which is for me, is a great, great opportunity to see because it opens the doors for them to become leaders in this industry. And nuclear industry, frankly, needs more women and the senior posts and senior positions. Because they always instill a kind of leadership level standards of caring and the standard the development of the younger, the younger generation that brings our colleagues, which is I'm very, very proud to say as I mentioned earlier, reactors, secondary after one critical bar, one of the young Emirati is a woman in Marathi. And the ratio we have today in woman and nuclear industry. We had the highest ratio by the way, plus 20% plus compared to the US and Canada and Europe and Asia. And we are very proud of

Chris Keefer  24:21  

you putting us to say my friend, you're putting us too soon. But that's very interesting. So I mean, it was this, like this decision, the result of enlightened leadership. Is this a broader impulse within Emirati society? Is this something unique to nuclear? I don't I mean, certainly, there's lots of efforts, you see, as you're mentioning, with women and nuclear throughout the world to increase the participation of women but I'm curious where exactly that comes from in the emirates that you've achieved such such good results.

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  24:46  

It's, I think the earlier the other points you mentioned, they are all of the above ourselves with leadership today in the in the nation here in the UAE, the leadership, empowering woman and multiple Do we have the, I think one of the highest ratios of ministers of woman ministers, we have a Minister of Youth, and she is in her 20s. And she became the minister of the youth to encourage both boys and girls to become qualified and inspire, aspire to believe leaders in their industries. And she visited baraka and she was also a role model for one of the some of the young engineers, boys and girls we have, we have the leadership of the nation, very empowering of woman and, and also for me, now having four girls, I'm also very interested to see them become successful in this industry. And we are, we are taking this opportunity of developing the woman and also men and industry equally, so they can become successful and generate huge interest and huge buying for the younger generation for this great industry that will be there for the next six years.

Chris Keefer  26:01  

So, you know, beyond just making power, obviously, there's a lot of companies and you mentioned a lot of collaboration internationally. I know. I've seen Canada's s&c level as is involved in assisting with some of the engineering work. But I gather there's a number of Emirati enterprises that are that are coming into being to support the activities at the plant and I heard even potentially to help supply, maybe cabling or other supplies. These are just rumors I've heard to other bills and other places around the world is that is that something that's beginning to happen?

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  26:32  

Yeah, that's true. We are supplying some other nations. And if I can take you back across when we did this tender on the market, we wanted, we didn't want to, we don't want to, we don't want to technologies here. We don't want to build reactors in the country. We want to use this technologies and find whatever we can develop within the UAE to help other nations to also benefit from I have two examples. One of them you mentioned a company called the cup, we managed to qualify them and help them so the qualification process of the queue class and they became successful and they supplied to Baraka, now they're supplying also internationally, another company called msst. And that company also we invested, we put our staff, the I think that stuff I mentioned earlier, that we developed early in the project we were they were came in early in the job on the QMS and quality and QA. And they developed our quality management system. I added second, some of them to other vendors, like Mrs. Christine spent their six months in their offices, helping them to qualify their steel to become Q class supplier. And they supplied Baraka with the with the steel. And today they pride themselves actually that they have they have they are qualified for nuclear power plants means they're equally qualified qualified for a very high grade C, and that's something also gives them access to other markets globally and also regionally, because they have a very high quality steel. So the knock on effect of this nuclear industry that got introduced in the UAE, it got Doa from legislation, and kind of introduce a better legislations. It helped us also as a nation, and our export control because now you have materials to account for and material to, to supervise, empower stablish, a very strong regulator that also regulates nuclear, healthcare and other sectors. And that's something which is now the the country benefiting from because you have a strong regulator that qualifies people across industries, and also regulate nuclear safety and export control. Even in our other sub ancillary industries, the kind of services for the baraka plant, we are in the middle of outage right now, for unit two, that brings a lot of companies, local companies to come and work on this for plants and services. So it's upgrading the industries for oil and gas for other industries. And this is something you don't see the benefit immediately, you see the benefit over a decade because it develops a highly skilled labor, that they have a better quality control, quality surveillance. And they have a mindset of nuclear safety if, when I if I could put my heart of what one represents the presidency, we always want to make nuclear industry kind of a unified and standardized way. And excellence journey excellence journey means every area of improvement you can develop, you invest on that you never get satisfied with the status quo. You're always constantly evolve and improve when it comes to quality standards for people for process for programs in a systematic way. And this is something I think you're always now benefiting from across sectors and cross pollination for other sectors.

Chris Keefer  29:51  

I want to pivot from speaking about this recent past into the near and far future. Before we do you You decided on for large nuclear reactors, APR 1400s. I heard another rumor, I think it's been substantiated. But that's the site has been prepared with, you know, water intake and outtake to potentially allow for more units to be added. First off, you know, why did you decide on the number of four units? And looking into the future based on the success? Are there plans to do more nuclear in the UAE to add more units there to do another station?

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  30:26  

That's a good question, Chris. I like you. I like your podcast because you do your homework. So I'm glad you've studied so so if I can take you back also, in our planning here in the UAE, when we plan things, we plan it for long term, we don't plan short term. So we do make a planning. And I mentioned this earlier, we were very thorough, very detailed planning, we do projects in a mega mega world, very well structured, you mentioned the airline, and we have also oil, oil and gas, we have also renewable all of it, we do it in a kind of a in a grandiose planning and visionary. And that goes back to our leadership of the nation, they always push us to be number one, whatever we do, and that's why we've taken the approach and the nuclear industry. So when we did the Araca planning site, we did designed actually for eight units of one one gigawatt plus kind of reactor and what we did also all the water intakes and also discharge channels for the water for the cooling was already been pre installed at Baraka. And we did the math, if we install them at that time would cost us around 100 million 100 and $20 million. Or if we do it, once we finish commission unit one, it's gonna cost us a billion later, let's invest a million 100 billion now, then a billion later. And we've we knew that nuclear clean electricity will be in higher demand down the road. And that's why we invested on those in this Maker project. Why for not not too, we did also a benchmark globally, if you built four units, if you build two units, the program becomes endemic meaning meaning that the industry becomes small, the cash flow is not enough to entice education and industry and get enough momentum for the nation to have a sustainable growth. For units we are that kind of at the the kind of a threshold of a good program that will be successful, and we will finance itself for for a long time. And that's why we've gone with four. And I'm seeing the dividends today of that benefit. We have enough cash flow for the industry to continue to grow in a sustainable manner. And if we forgot to build more, and what I've seen today with energy prices with the demand, also for green electricity to help industries to grow and prosper, definitely, some more units will be built in the near future even we this one was an assess session doing a futuristic planning for the 2050. And how we achieve Net Zero, an accelerated way. And that's also shows more clean electricity to be introduced in the sector. Or as we do on the way we do multiple scenarios. And we always go with scenarios that pay the highest dividends for us. And that's something we will continue to do. And if I can also cover another point, Chris, the benefit of building four units in a kind of a consecutive manner also paid a lot of dividends. For us, I've seen the benefit, when we did the first one, it was a challenging one, the second was easier. Third, one easier. And the fourth was easier if I can give you also a bulk bulk number of the productivity of labor between the first two and like one or two or three and for the labor was almost 50% Less 50%. So means that the three and four units were dramatically cheaper to build, were easier to build. And was was also done in a very sweet spot where you could easily roll over the manpower from Unit One, two to three to four. And there was a beautiful kind of rolling wave I would say of this talent. The people who did the initial construction in unit one, they finish they go to Unit Two, they finish the Cocina three, then you go to units for electrical work, they also they finish this equal to this. And for them, it's becoming a replication of the same work they've been doing. So it reduces the rework and reduce improves the quality of the work now was part of the planning and the thinking we've done that plan a worked in that in that scenario because you know, this talent, this institutional knowledge that you you develop over years worked for us and those units if they were to, I think we will we'll go to the tail and then we just will lose that benefit. But building for it did pay dividends and many, many aspects.

Chris Keefer  34:49  

Right right. Now, what I'm struck by in this conversation is your emphasis on planning. And I'm hopeful that that these lessons and that the models that are present in the UAE to do such system attic planning can be replicated around the world. Certainly that's that's some of my fear. Looking around the west right now, sometimes societies where there's a lot of polarized politics and you know, lots of changes happening, every electoral cycle that don't allow this long term planning to take place. But it's interesting, you you reference the book, how big things get done by Professor Benfleet. Berg, we actually cover that book and I interviewed one of the authors for the podcast, and you know, it was, it was very interesting book, but it was quite quite bearish on nuclear, he sort of wrote off the entire technology, and I thought it was such a missed opportunity, because nuclear presents this opportunity, yes, to have, you know, big fat tails and go away, you know, beyond budget and schedule, but also, you know, an opportunity to really study at this phenomenon or something they can, you know, have troubles, but some of that can be done so well, and I thought there was a missed opportunity there, that, you know, ideally, maybe there's another edition, and they'll tell the story of the UAE and of baraka and have a more sophisticated analysis towards nuclear but just, you know, emphasizing this, this planning element of some more Do you have any other pearls, I know that there's things that will be relevant just to the UAE, maybe parts of that model that aren't exportable, but, you know, talking to brother nations, like Poland, for instance, other newcomers to nuclear, if you had sort of, you know, top three bits of advice regarding planning, what would those be and speaking to those brother countries,

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  36:26  

first of all, reading the book of how to get things done. Big thing is, that's a good a good reference point. And, and what I would advise is to do a proper planning when it comes to politics, politics is difficult to plan for I cannot go there and, and I always enjoy my engineering background, I like to think of things black and white sometimes. But nuclear undersea is often sometimes controversial. So having a clear policy, politically speaking here, that with the sun, and whether the time and change of people and interest, so you had initially published a policy paper and actually was published by as actually had the minister of foreign affairs that time and was publicly published in a press conference in April 2008. I remember the date because was very clear and very important point that did explain the role and interest of the UAE we are interested to use the civilian nuclear industry to power our nation and benefit from a clean, safe, reliable source of electricity. So that's a must for anybody want to develop the nuclear program to to enjoy the clean and reliable TriCity. Second comes the infrastructure planning and you have to do a very thorough planning looking at the level of maturity. And if I can go back on the UAE 2008, we didn't have a regulator, we didn't have a qualified person the way to work in the nuclear industry, we didn't have the the legislations in the nation here to be able to, to bring the material here to do the export control to do this in a systematic and have the infrastructure to handle such facilities and support them to become successful. So we did a very thorough gap analysis, this is where we have this is the areas we will need to grow need to develop and educate and, and put the legislations and we cover a very detailed work breakdown structure from legislation, law, regulation, human capital development, then across the whole spectrum, because at level zero, then we broke down that details, what we should have, then we roll that and schedule by 2017 1819 2021 25 how things should look like, then we work backwards, and what we should how we should do it. So we developed a roadmap or 400 pages plus and that roadmap has couple of 1000s of tasks rolls over up to 100 than up to 2020 2085. So, with a detailed tasks, how we will even achieve decommissioning and and restart and kind of a present the site as was when we took it over. So that detailed plan is very important. And also it's an overlook of what should we will mitigate from risks point of view, nuclear projects, mega projects around over a decade to construct and you have to have those care planning done in a very detailed manner and the loss of vital to as the we know we are interested to go and help other nations to develop the programs. We are looking at Eastern Europe, the UK to go and also invest on those business opportunities. So we would love to touch base with over untrusted to hobble them in the early days of the project from siting of the nuclear side to the early construction work to the construction license. and all the way to construction, preparation for Operation testing, commissioning, all the way to operations. So we have this bouquet of services we can provide, we could share them for bone, when we could, we could also do them for business opportunities, because also we need to make some money and help others to become successful.

Chris Keefer  40:21  

No, I think that's, that's fascinating. And, you know, when you talked about, you know, making a decision on vendors, you went with, you know, a country in a program that's very credible, the Koreans, you know, have been building those reactors quickly, they've really demonstrated the ability to build the exact type of reactor that they assisted you with in building your in your country. And now it seems like you have the credibility as a as a new nuclear country to offer some of the experiences that you've gathered in this planning process, which again, I don't think either of us can emphasize enough, the importance of of getting that planning rate of planning slow and building fast. Let's let's pivot now, to talk about the near future. And I'm excited to be coming to your country, I believe, end of November, early December for the comp 28 Climate Conference, which the UAE will be hosting. I think we missed each other by a few days in Egypt, unfortunately, it was interested in you know, touring all over the country pavilions in this, you know, World Fair type environment. And, you know, to my great shame at my country, there was no mention of nuclear despite, you know, our beloved candy reactor and the amazing role that we've had with nuclear domestically and internationally. But there were some countries that showcase nuclear and the UAE was one of them. What are you anticipating for a cup 2018 is nuclear going to be a theme that's, that you're going to be eager to talk about? You know, this is, from my understanding the largest clean energy project in the Middle East at Baraka. Tell me your thoughts about cop 20.

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  41:51  

So, cop is a great opportunity to be able to engage and showcase the success story that we had here in the UAE. But what I'm seeing right now is a great interest in the industry globally. I've attended the cop in Glasgow, and also in Sharma share. And I've seen a very positive trend on the nuclear industry, and very positive welcoming of the nuclear industry to be part of the solution. And also, I'm seeing a real realization that net zero by 2050, is impossible without nuclear being part of the next. And that's something people are realizing even the political at political level have seen in Europe and other parts of the world. People want to have an engage in the nuclear industry in a very systematic, I would say, in a scientific manner, which is, I see there's an opportunity to showcase the success stories. You weigh today, I would say humbling to say, it's been a great success story, if I can share a story we mentioned the Korean kind of a success story. I remember in 2008, I've attended a workshop by the IEA. It's called the milestone document workshop. And we were given the Korean experience we were given other nations experiences to to learn from and there is a 19 areas of infrastructure you need to qualify and benchmark against. And that was the foundation for our roadmap and our work breakdown structure that we took on we adopted a weight. And I was sitting in the back one of the kind of in the back of the audience and was asking a lot of questions. And that's when that time we were ranked number 40 in the world, we were thinking about tendering. And and I had some rudimentary questions about the nuclear industry. And up to date to say I'm very proud, we have around 3500 employees. And we get asked very often today by the IAEA to come and present our case. So we are becoming their success story globally. And they want people to come and listen to our success story. I'm also very proud to say, of our engineers, they go and showcase and share their experience their lessons learned, how they overcome some of the challenges and how we were successful and in many areas from radioactive red radioactive management, from radiation management, all the way to maintenance all the way to safety all the way to nuclear fuel design, if you will design reviews, so we managed to develop a lot of capabilities now we are sharing those capabilities to the IAEA. Now, when got to cop 28. My vision is to see how we can bring nations to bring the facts and the science and the bankable projects to fruition. I think we have an opportunity to share the UAE success story. Canada is also embarking on the small reactors and small modular reactors and they are also touted as a great technologies, the CANDU reactors. There's a lot of appetite globally today. And cop 28 Here in the UAE in Dubai will be a A big this morning I was in workshop there at the club and we are doing some preliminary activities there, we had a green summit discussion within the within the government. And that was done in the heart center of that where the cup will happen. And there's preparation work happening to, to kind of a launch the pre launch, also some of the activities leading up to God. And I do invite all all countries or nations to participate and also encourage the nations who have been benefiting from this technology, like your Canada and others, to showcase their capabilities to showcase their success, success stories to also put the facts and the science out there for people to come and look at and understand that technologies can do is a great technology PW AR is also great technology, DWR great technologies, also some of the advanced reactors, so the the some of the new scale, synergy TerraPower, all of them also coming to showcase that capabilities. I'm also working with the IEA, W, Na and Ei, to see how we can collaborate and bring companies to come in the green zone and nations also in the blue zone. So they can explain the success stories. I also hear the way we'll have a theme for young people and sustainability for the future. And also I'm sure there'll be good dialogues and good discussion on the nuclear industry. This morning, I was asked very, I would say tough questions about safety of nuclear power plant waste management and, and how nuclear power plants work and how they can prosper and how they can contribute and zero. And it was I was very interested interested to listen to the young people. But when I give them the facts and the numbers, I think some of them kind of hit the reset button, obviously, some kind of a bulb just went on top of their heads. One individual was pushing let's put rooftop panels of on top of houses with solar cloud solar panels. And we will be able to solve the energy crisis an hour was when I put the number to them. That when it comes to energy density when it comes to how much you could produce from a tunnel on a roof, roof of a house, and how much you could generate coolant from few grams of uranium in any reactor and how much energy can produces. And they were they were very interested. So most of them are from the STEM background. So they were able to do algebra and do the calculation, their minds immediately come up with the numbers. And I remember we were discussing with I was discussing with that the individual. He says okay, that's like, you know, bringing a small sledgehammer to doing to kind of go in and bring a mountain down, Tom yep, that's about it. You know, that's, that's the solar panel compared to nuclear power plant. So these analogies, I think goes a long way with it with the young generation. And I think we have a golden opportunity today. To be very honest, I'm acknowledging and technology agnostic. So I like all technologies, it's good to look at the technical aspects, then you layer it with the commercial aspects. So you do the economics of it. And then you put what ever will work for each nation because each country has its own unique pros and cons and benefits and limitations and all that. And what we then we did here, the UAE, to make four units bankable and to be financed also by private banks. That's never been done anywhere. And that's something we can bring to the table we can bring to the discussion, we can also help other nations to be able to replicate that we have the legal infrastructure, we have the communities, I know how, and I would love to, to talk more to companies and countries to explain to them our success story at COP 28. And also, if I may, a short story I was at the ceraweek weeks ago, and I met with some of the banks and with some also a smaller group people, new people interested in your industry, the chemical industries and another undersea, they want steam, hot steam they want. Some of them want to enable hydrogen and also process of chemicals at 600 degrees of Celsius of temperature, and always explaining to them the success story we have in the UAE. And to my surprise, some of the countries have been big banks, you didn't know about what's happening in the UAE, you guys have nuclear power plants. And I said, Yeah, three of them are operational, by the way. And that's I feel, I feel we need to do more. And I see the cop as an opportunity for us to do more there and educate the public and the international community about what you've done in the UAE and the the benefit we can bring to bear to help other nation but also put the solutions on the table for people to make their own choices. Of What will work for other countries to be able to meet the net zero by 2050. And, and the UAE today we are an accelerator. If I can share with your audience, they have Cooking Cooking numbers. The four units that we will have operational soon. And they will provide around 40 terawatts will Facility A terawatt hour of the city annually, we will avoid over 21,000,020 2 million tons of co2 emissions annually. And that's a huge to put this under the listeners and prospective. That's a corporator 4.2 million cars by the by the codes of ethics 2016 or so the standards of car emissions. And the UAE we have around 3 million cars, roughly three 3.1

million cars in the UAE and that will remove around 4.2 million cars. So that's huge, even the transportation carbon emissions will be eliminated by the UN itself. And another aspect also where we see the value of those units is enabling us also as a as a nation as of today because of the energy crisis in Europe to be able to dispatch more gas to Europe help them through this crisis. So we will not be able to do that without those four units being operational in the UAE so they bring a lot of benefits and the UAE and one other point we didn't talk about current switches we manage here in the way to generate green certificates through independent government agency accounting system to sell this green certificate. So the biggest companies in the country our oil and gas company called knock came and bought majority of the of the electricity generated by those units. And they're paying a premium for for the for the electricity are consuming from the nuclear power plant. And this has enabled them to stamp their products being produced from a cleaner sources of electricity. Another company called Emirates global aluminum, it's called the irradiated as EVGA. They are one of the key suppliers of aluminum, clean aluminum, aluminum to BMW and majority of the electric BMW and aluminum comes from here from UAE, through a clean electricity. So these products and these opportunities won't be there if we didn't have this investment in nuclear power plants are also renewable. And we are very happy to see the dividends and enjoy the dividends of these investments. I forgot to get back on the planning phase of 2008 and 2009. That was incompatible. And for me, I was thinking about it working very hard day and night to achieve this target and to achieve this goal. But today I'm sitting here in my seat, we are generating clean electricity, we are enjoying also the cash flow to the bank, it's counting as this counter much faster than the than when we have in our time counter use good good revenues. And it's happening it's real. It's it's bankable, it is saving the environment we are we are providing a cleaning facility for the nation. This slide you see behind me here is now as we speak right now, around 40% of it's powered by nuclear power plants from Baraka a month ago to an 18% because we have lower winter of demand and winter because of lower AC demand air conditioning demand was 80%. And for me, it's I'm very proud to be part of this journey. And to be very proud of the young people we have the 3500 people who have Baraka strong people very capable, very competent. And this is the beginning, only the beginning looking at the future. Because I do see our enrollment in SMR. I do see our involvement in hydrogen production here in the UAE, I see the opportunity we can provide higher temperature steam to to the chemical industry to the other industries that are very interested to provide to be using excess electricity. And also see the future of us helping other nations investing in other countries by our talent and helping other nations become successful and this journey of decarbonizing the energy sector through the atom.

Chris Keefer  54:24  

I think that's a wonderful place to live. It's Mohammed, you must wake up sometimes and have to pinch yourself just you know, having walked through this process through a large part of your career, again, from ink on paper to turning on the lights and those lights being powered by these power plants that you've been so intrinsically involved in, in stewarding along into this world. So thank you for that. Thank you for joining us on the podcast. Again. There's been an enormous amount of interest in the UAE. I do hope to have the honor of meeting you at at COP 28 and hopefully getting to tour this plant At some point as well so thank you for for coming on again during Ramadan Ramadan Kareem my friend and hopefully we will have you on again at some point in the future.

His Excellence Mohamed Al Hammadi  55:11  

Thanks Chris and I really enjoyed that conversation and I look forward to hosting you here in the UAE and also to our to our listeners here in your podcast also invite you to come and cop to cop 2018 in the UAE you will enjoy it. It's a very welcoming nation. We love people to come and visit our nation to enjoy our culture and and enjoy the intellectual discussion that will be happening from now until kop 28 and beyond go beyond cup 28 And I hope not hope I'm confident that we will be able to meet the climate change challenge and we will be able to accelerate our journey and our pro our programs towards net zero by 2050. And the UAE is doing that in a very serious and a very ambitious manner.

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