Saudi Arabia aims to build nuclear plant by 2020

Saudi Arabia aims to start building its first nuclear power plant in 2014, with a goal to complete construction by 2020 and link to the grid by 2024, a consultant at KACARE, the King Abdullah Centre for Atomic and Renewable Energy, has told a nuclear construction conference in Dubai.

KACARE was set up in 2010 to advance the country’s nuclear development and has a 63 kmà‚² site 20 km from Riyadh.

The process of selecting a site for Saudi Arabia’s first series of reactors has started and a study for selecting technology will be released in the next two weeks, said Ibrahim Babelli, according to the Financial Times.

“There are a lot of things that need to be done, but our target [for a first plant] is 2020,” he added.

Mr Babelli said that one scenario under consideration involved building between 40 and 60 nuclear reactors by 2030. But he suggested this could be unrealistic.

“That is stretching it. The answer is an energy mix,” he said.

Saudi Arabia currently burns 1.2 million barrels of crude oil a day in helping to meet electricity demand. Capacity totalled 51.2 GW in 2009 with heavy demand for desalination, for which nuclear energy could be suited.

Interest in developing nuclear plants is widespread in the Arab world. Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are also seeking to establish nuclear energy for civilian use.

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