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Saudi Arabia pushes ahead with nuclear, renewable power

Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with its renewables and nuclear power projects to meet rapidly growing power demand, top government officials from the kingdom said in Abu Dhabi.

The country will build a nuclear plant comprising two reactors with a total capacity of 3.2 gigawatts, Abdul Malek Al M. Saberi, a senior official from King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) told reporters on the sidelines of World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

“We have received proposals from five countries including China, Russia, US, South Korea and France to build the nuclear power plant. We will announce the winner at the end of the year and will sign a joint venture in the early 2019 to build the plant,” Al Saberi said.

The kingdom is aiming to commission the nuclear plant by 2027, he said adding that Saudi Arabia will be the second country in the region to have a nuclear power plant after the UAE.

When asked about investment plans, he said financing will be discussed with the bidder and declined to give the figure.

The country is also building two small reactors, with a capacity of 120 megawatts each, which are expected to be commissioned by 2023. Nuclear energy will contribute about 5 per cent of the total energy mix once the nuclear reactors become operational.

“There is an annual electricity demand [growth] of more than 7 per cent in Saudi Arabia due to growing population and industries,” Al Saberi said.

“With nuclear energy we are going to rely less on hydrocarbons for electricity generation and the nuclear energy programme will also give a boost to industrial sector growth and diversification of the economy.”

Due to a plunge in global oil prices, Saudi Arabia — along with other countries — is focusing on diversifying its economy to generate extra revenue.

The country is planning to create thousands of new jobs and set up new industries as part of its vision 2030, launched by Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia is also looking at wind, as well as solar plants, to contribute to the country’s energy mix.

It is targeting 9.5 gigawatts of wind and solar energy by 2023.

“We will not stop and will go beyond that. We are optimistic to achieve the target. The government is supporting the programme in a big way,” said Asem Othman Alkadi from Renewable Energy Project Development Office in Saudi Arabia.

Geothermal and waste to energy are the other sources of energy which the Kingdom is targeting in future, he added.

Saudi Arabia, one of the largest exporters of oil in the world is planning to invest $30 to $50 billion in the coming years up to 2023 in renewable energy projects.

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