The Middle East would be making a mistake of “gargantuan magnitude” if it did not look to nuclear power as the prime solution to its energy demand challenges.

That was the message delivered today in Doha today by Mike Waite of Westinghouse Electric Co, who said that turning to nuclear would allow countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia to utilize their vast reserves of oil for export rather than burning in their own power plants – an economic difference of $4 to burn and $100 to sell.
Mike Waite of Westinghouse Electric
He said almost every country in the Middle East and North Africa had expressed some level of interest in nuclear energy, ranging from 1 GW proposals to 50 GW, with the UAE leading the way for new build as it was first out of the blocks with its nuclear programme in 2009.

And he added that the region had the benefit of learning from the problems affecting new build in Europe, and highlighted this week’s withdrawal from nuclear by Centrica in the UK, the rejection last week of a deep geological repository in England and the time and cost over-runs of Olkiluoto power plant in Finland.

Waite was speaking at a nuclear conference at POWER-GEN Middle East, where he also stated that despite the concerns following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, “nuclear makes as much sense today” as it did then. “Nuclear is several times safer than renewables, 100 times safer than gas and 1000 times safer than oil,” he added.

Next year POWER-GEN Middle East will be held in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in October.

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