Thursday, April 05, 2018

Nuclear Power Firms Woo Middle East

Middle Eastern countries are welcoming nuclear power firms promising to meet their energy needs, while most of the world worries over reactor costs.

Iran’s nuclear power plant at Bushehr: Focus of regional rivalry. [Image Credit: Paolo Contri/IAEA Imagebank (Flickr 047 10033), via Wikimedia Commons)] Click to Enlarge.
Nuclear power firms are scrambling to sell reactors to countries in one of the most troubled parts of the world, the Middle East.  Many lack domestic customers and see this new market as a potential lifesaver.

A report last year by the US-based Center for Climate & Security included the Middle East in a list of what it called “potential crisis regions where combining security, climate, and nuclear risks must be addressed urgently.”

The biggest prize is the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has announced plans to build 16 nuclear plants over the next 25 years at a cost of US$80 billion, part of an effort to diversify away from fossil fuels.  South Korea, China, France, Russia, Japan, and the United States are all bidding to build them.

In a region where renewables are half the price of nuclear power – because the sun shines for longer and with greater intensity than almost anywhere else in the world – building new nuclear plants may seem strange.

Saudi Arabia, which is also investing heavily in solar power, points to rapidly rising domestic demand for electricity and says renewables will not provide enough for its needs.

Other countries in the region that are already building or have signed contracts to build new reactors are Iran, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey.

All say the decision to go for nuclear power is entirely a consequence of the local need for more electricity, although perhaps the Saudi rulers also have an eye on their power rival Iran, which already has an operating nuclear power station and is building more.

Read more at Nuclear Power Firms Woo Middle East

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