Saudi Arabia’s plans for 17 GW of nuclear build over the next two decades will go to several builders for political gain

Saudi Arabia’s atomic energy ambitions are grand enough to grant several reactor vendors multi-billion dollar contracts to keep them busy building in the desert for decades.

Saudi Arabia is likely to opt to build a variety of different plants to meet its rapidly rising power demand, according to the Vice President of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE), which is responsible for steering the Kingdom’s nuclear plans.

More than one design would avoid over-stretching one reactor builder and allow the Kingdom to sign politically potent, long-term contracts with several of its biggest trading partners.

The current front runners are all countries which Saudi Arabia has already signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with, which include France, Korea, China, and Argentina.

The Kingdom is considering only Generation 3 and 3+ advanced reactors which have already licensed, built and operated safely. Third-generation plants have standardized designs to streamline licensing and cut construction times, added safety features and longer operating lives of around 60 years. The Kingdom expects the first to be built by 2022.

Third generation large reactor vendors include Mitsubishi, France’s Areva, Toshiba Corp’s Westinghouse, GE Hitachi, and Korea’s Kepco.

Saudi Arabia is also keen to use smaller modular reactors at industrial complexes, but will hold off on buying any until there are clearer, global regulations on their use.

The Kingdom’s atomic ambitions are modest compared to China’s, which is building 29,910 MW and planning another 59,800 MW, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA).

India is building 5,300 MW and planning to build at least another 15,100 MW, while Russia is building 9,160 MW and planning another 24,180 MW.

But it is still one of the biggest potential export markets for reactor vendors worldwide over the next two decades, as China builds more of its own plants and Russia always has done so.

SOURCE – Arab News

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