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Saudi Arabia on course for first nuclear power plant

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build two nuclear reactors that will have a capacity of 3.2 gigawatts

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Senior officials from Saudi Arabia have said that the Kingdom in the final planning stages of building its first ever nuclear power plant as part of its efforts to broaden renewable energy deployment.

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build two nuclear reactors that will have a capacity of 3.2 gigawatts.

“We are pushing on with our plans and have so far got proposals from five countries including China, Russia, US, South Korea and France to build the nuclear power plant,” Abdul Malek Al M. Saberi, a senior official from King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) told reporters on the sidelines of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) held in Abu Dhabi last week.

“We hope to announce the winner at the end of the year and will sign a joint venture in the early 2019 to build the plant.”

Saberi added that the nuclear plant would be commissioned by 2027, which will effectively make it the second nuclear plant in the GCC after the one being in Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia is also building two small reactors, with a capacity of 120 megawatts each, which are expected to be commissioned by 2023. Nuclear energy will contribute about 5% of the total energy mix once the nuclear reactors become operational.

“There is an annual electricity demand [growth] of more than 7% in Saudi Arabia due to growing population and industries,” Al Saberi said.

“With nuclear energy we are going to rely less on hydrocarbons for electricity generation and the nuclear energy programme will also give a boost to industrial sector growth and diversification of the economy.”

Saudi Arabia is also looking at wind, as well as solar plants, to contribute to the country’s energy mix.

It is targeting 9.5 gigawatts of wind and solar energy by 2023.

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