ADNOC Will Use up to 100% Nuclear and Solar Power Starting Next Year

The national oil company plans to tap into what is claimed to be the world's largest single-site solar power plant and the region's first nuclear power plant to decarbonize its operations.

The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant was commissioned in 2020 and is located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, approximately 32 miles west-southwest of the city of Ruwais.
Source: Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.

A new plan will see the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) receive up to 100% of its grid power from the UAE’s nuclear and solar power sources.

The deal involves the Emirates Water and Electric Company (EWEC) which is set to begin providing the emissions-free electrons to ADNOC in January 2022. This is according to a government statement which described the power deal as “the largest of its kind in the oil and gas industry.”

The agreement also serves the UAE’s ambition to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and ADNOC’s sustainability target of a 25% reduction in emissions by 2030. ADNOC produces about 4 million B/D of oil, 10.5 Bcf/D of natural gas, and operates its own refining units.

“This landmark clean energy partnership with EWEC will make ADNOC the first major oil and gas company to decarbonize its power at scale through a clean power partnership of this kind,” Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, group CEO of ADNOC, said in the announcement. He added that the initiative “underscores how hydrocarbons, clean energy, and advanced energy sources can complement each other in the energy transition.”

While aligning with climate initiatives, the move to use nuclear and solar power is also meant to improve the competitive advantage of ADNOC’s crude on global markets that are scrutinizing carbon footprints more than ever. The government release noted that Murban, ADNOC’s benchmark crude grade, “already has a carbon intensity that is less than half the industry average, a figure that will be further improved as a result of this agreement.”

Since 2019, the EWEC has operated Noor Abu Dhabi which it claims is the world’s largest single-site solar power plant with a capacity of 1.2 GW. The state-owned energy provider is in the midst of constructing an even bigger solar plant, the Al Dhafra Solar PV IPP, which will use almost 4 million solar panels to generate up to 2 GW of electricity.

The Al Dhafra region is also home to the UAE’s and the region’s first nuclear power plant which started up its first reactor in December 2020 and its second in August. Once all four reactors at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant are online they will supply a combined 5.6 GW of power, or about a quarter of the UAE’s total electric demand.