Recently, as a part of their sustainable developing strategy, many middle-eastern countries show the interest in the nuclear energy as a supplement of their power generation.
Iran started using the nuclear energy to produce the electricity ever since 1970s. However, its nuclear project in Bushehr province of which the construction started in 1974 was destroyed by Iraqi’s air strikes during the war while it was half completed. After that Iran and Russia signed contract and a new VVER reactor was rebuilt and it started operation in 2013.
Another Middle Eastern country interests in the nuclear energy is UAE. The Barakah nuclear power plant is a $20 Billion project from a South Korea consortium to build 4 reactors with total outputs 5.6GWe.
Why Nuclear Energy is needed in the Middle East?
In December 2006, six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, and Oman) announced that the Council was commissioning a study on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. After the announcement, France and Iran agreed to work with them and pledged assistance with nuclear technology. In February 2007, the six countries agreed with the IAEA to cooperate on a feasibility study for a regional nuclear power and desalination program. Saudi Arabia was leading the investigation and this program emerged in 2009. In the past, the Gulf countries were heavily relying on their oil-economy. Developing nuclear energy is one of the solution to diversify its energy structure which will be good for their economy.
Countries like Jordan, imports over 95% of its energy needs, at a cost of about one fifth of its GDP. Jordan’s Committee for Nuclear Strategy was set up in 2007, set out a program for nuclear power to provide 30% of electricity by 2030.
What is the Current Status and the Future of the Nuclear Industry Development in the Middle East?
UAE is ahead of building the first Arab nuclear power plant. The first unit of Barakah nuclear project is expected to start generating electricity in 2017, another three units will also start their operation in 2020. The Barakah nuclear power plant will provide totally 25% of UAE’s electricity needs.
Saudi Arabia is the main electricity producer and consumer in the Gulf area and the biggest potential nuclear market in the Middle East. The demand of electricity in Saudi Arabia is growing 8% per year. In 2013, KA-CARE announced that 17GWe of nuclear capacity will be constructed in Saudi Arabia by 2032, which will take 15% of the country’s total energy demands. The first reactor in Saudi Arabia is expected to be operating in 2022.
Jordan is another country being active in the nuclear industry. A deal was signed with Rosatom in 2013 that 2 AES-92 units will be built by Rosatom in Jordan by 2023. This project will cost $10 billion and Russia contributes 49.9% of it.
The nuclear industry is growing rapidly in this region and the Middle Eastern countries are also actively engaging in the global cooperation. Although most of them are playing the role as a buyer, several cooperative agreements were signed with USA, France, UK, China, and Russia to absorbing the technology. That in another 20 years, the Middle Eastern will be another mature nuclear market.
What’s your comments on the nuclear industry in Middle East?
The nuclear industry in Middle Eastern will be discussed as it is one of the most important new build market in Asia and in the world during the 5th Asia Nuclear Business Platform, which will take place 16-18 May in Shanghai. For more information please contact: [email protected]