Saudi Arabia Works with South Korea, China, Argentina on Nuclear Power

Google Earth Satellite images show that Saudi Arabia is within months of completing an experimental nuclear reactor. Saudi Arabia is working with Argentina on the experimental reactors. In March 2015, INVAP (Investigacion Aplicada) from Argentina and state-owned Saudi technology innovation company Taqnia set up a joint venture company, Invania, to develop nuclear technology for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear power program, apparently focusing on small reactors such as CAREM (100 MWt, 27 MWe) for desalination. Saudi Arabia has a goal of creating Small Modular Reactors with South Korea and/or Argentina that could generate 3.2 gigawatts of nuclear power for Saudi Arabia in 2030. The World Nuclear Association reports that Saudi Arabia plans to construct two large nuclear power reactors. This is scaled back from building 16 over the next 20-25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion.
Google Earth satellite shots of Experimental Nuclear Reactor facility in Saudi Arabia

Small and Large Nuclear Reactors In Planning and Study Phases

In March 2015 the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) signed an agreement with KA-CARE to assess the potential for building at least two South Korean SMART reactors in the country, and possibly more.

KEPCO is undertaking the pre-project planning and feasibility studies for KAERI’s $130 million contract. SMART Power will be the prime EPC contractor, with construction start expected in 2018. SMART is designed for electricity generation (up to 100 MWe) as well as seawater desalination. It has a 60-year design life and three-year refueling cycle. The first SMART unit in Saudi Arabia is estimated to cost $1 billion.

South Korea and Saudi Arabia want to commercialize and sell the SMART reactor to third countries. KAERI has designed an integrated desalination plant based on the SMART reactor to produce 40,000 m3/day of water and 90 MWe of power at less than the cost of gas turbine.

In January 2016 KA-CARE signed an agreement with China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (CNEC) to build a high-temperature reactor (HTR) based on the HTR-PM now under construction in China.

In January 2015, the Saudi government said its target for 17 GWe of nuclear capacity would be more like 2040. In 2017 KA-CARE announced that it was soliciting proposals for 2.9 GWe nuclear capacity, from South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. In November 2018 KA-CARE awarded a contract to Worley Parsons to provide consultancy services for the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project.

SOURCES – World Nuclear Association, Bloomberg, Google Earth

Written by Brian Wang,


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