Utilities Middle East – August 2019

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a u d i A r a b i a w i l l b e o n e o f a h a n d -
ful of countries expected to
receive state-of-the-art advanced
nuclear reactors from China and
Russia, according to a new report.
The report, “Advancing Nuclear Innova-
tion: Responding to Climate Change and
Strengthening Global Security,” was com-
missioned by the Global Nexus Initiative.
This is a project established by the Partner-
ship for Global Security, a Washington DC-
based think tank, and the Nuclear Energy
Institute (NEI), which represents the US
nuclear energy industry. It is a publicly avail-
able assessment of the non-proliferation,
security, and geopolitical characteristics of
advanced nuclear-reactor technology.
The report, which took 16 experts over a
y e a r t o p r o d u c e , s a y s t h a t a d v a n c e d r e a c -
tors will likely be ready for deployment
within one to two decades, setting the stage
for major technological competition among
powerful geopolitical rivals.
Although complicated by politics, the eco-
nomic case for countries to invest in civil
nuclear reactors as part of a mix of alterna-
tive energy sources is compelling. The Global
Nexus Initiative report says the international
community should strive to make sure that


A general benefit of nuclear energy is its potential
role in producing carbon-dioxide emission-free electric-
ity for a number of purposes. For the foreseeable future,
renewable energy sources like wind and sun will prob-
ably not be able to deliver the output needed, such as in
industrial development.”
John Bernhard, Partnership for Global Security

any race for market share among geopoliti-
cal competitors strengthens nuclear gover-
nance rather than weakens it.
“In order to meet the energy and climate
challenges which the world faces, advanced
reactors should be ready for deployment in
t h e 2 0 2 5 t o 2 0 3 0 f r a m e w o r k ,” s a i d J o h n B e r-
nhard, a senior associate at the Partnership
for Global Security who earlier served as
Denmark’s ambassador to the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“These reactors will generally have vari-
ous advantages — they are smaller and more
fl exible than traditional reactors, which
means inter alia that in many countries,
including Saudi Arabia, they can be deployed
in remote and arid areas.”

Saudi Arabia’s growing electricity needs
are currently met almost entirely by oil and
natural gas. In 2016, for example, 40 percent
o f i t s e l e c t r i c i t y c a m e f r o m o i l. T h e r e s u l t
i s a l o s s o f p o t e n t i a l e x p o r t r e v e n u e. W h a t
is more, Saudi Arabia expects a 40 percent
jump in electricity demand between 2019
and 2030, according to Khalid Al-Falih, the
energy minister.
Electricity use will rise in the Kingdom
due to the ongoing growth of urban areas
and plans to develop a strong manufactur-
ing sector. At the same time, according to
the Electricity and Cogeneration Regula-
tory Authority (ECRA), nine percent of the
electricity is used for desalination, on which
Gulf countries are heavily dependent in the

10 Utilities Middle East / August 2019 http://www.utilities-me.com


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