Middle East nuclear energy progress

Nuclear energy is moving closer to becoming part of the regional power mix as Abu Dhabi, Jordan and Egypt make firm progress with their plans…..

This is the standfirst for a recent article I have written for MEED about the region’s nuclear power plans. Within it I interview head of the Arab Atomic Energy Agency Abdelmajid Mahjoub who explains why it wont be long before these states are generating electricity with nuclear power.

The biggest development was in December when Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation signed a contract worth around $20bn with a consortia led by South Korea’s Kepco. The deal sees Kepco, Hyundai and Samsung build 4 reactors by 2020. Site selection is now underway with the western region of Al Garbia being most likely location for the new power stations. In the course of the research a question kept coming up – Why do hydrocarbon rich courties need nuclear power? Holger Rogner of the International Atomic Energy Agency gave me the best response and it relates to the heavy subsidies that Middle East governments apply to local feedstocks: “It is basic economics,” he says. “Given the oil price of today and what we expect in the future you can produce oil for $1-2 per barrel. For one barrel of electricity equivalent you need three barrels of oil and that is then subsidised to local market. Alternatively you can take 3 barrels and sell for them for $70 and you get $210 instead of $6 and that pays for the nuclear power plant automatically.”

The full report will appear in MEED on 19th March.

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