Nuclear energy in Jordan
In December 2016, Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) in cooperation with a consortium headed by the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute, inaugurated the 5 MW Jordan Research and Training Reactor. The facility is the first nuclear reactor in the county. It will provide radioactive isotopes for medical usage in Jordan, and will provide training for students at the University to produce a skilled workforce for the country's planned commercial nuclear reactors.
Two nuclear power plants are to be built by Russian Rosatom company and are expected to be inaugurated in 2023 and 2025.
Nuclear power plans
In 2007, Jordan's Committee for Nuclear Strategy was formed in order to start the development of nuclear programs in Jordan. Their ultimate goal is to provide 30% of their own electricity by 2030, and to prove for exports. From this program, the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission and the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission were developed. Also in 2007, Jordan announced a plan which would help develop a civic nuclear program. This nuclear program would assist in diversifying Jordan's energy portfolio, which would help bring Jordan out of their current energy crisis. Jordan has relied on exports to sustain their way of living, however, they have run into numerous obstacles, which has made the creation of their own nuclear program more appealing. During the era of Saddam Hussein, Jordan was forced to rely on receiving oil at a reduced price from Iraq. The invasion by the United States in 2003 interrupted the deals and forced Jordan to look elsewhere for oil, which is when Jordan focused their efforts of Egypt. Arab Spring and the 2011 ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak interrupted the supply of oil that was being sent to Jordan, setting Jordan back further in their energy crisis. In April 2012 the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission shortened the list from seven to two possible reactor vendors. The two vendors have been narrowed down to Areva-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Russia's AtomStroyExport. The reactor technology has yet to be decided upon, however, the tentative deadline for this decision is set in the middle of May 2014. The research reactor will become a focal point for a Nuclear Technology Centre, which will train upcoming generations of nuclear engineers and scientists in the Kingdom in addition to provide irradiation services for the industrial, agricultural and medical sectors. In March 2013, Jordan received approval to begin construction on the Jordan Research and Training Reactor at the Jordan University of Science and Technology. The approximate cost of the reactor is $130 million, with at least $70 million being loaned by the South Korean government.
Jordan plans to build at least one reactor by 2019. The government first chose a site 25 kilometers south of the Red Sea port of Aqaba but shifted the tentative location to the Mafraq area, 40 kilometers northeast of Amman, citing the proximity to the Khirbet Al Samra power plant for using its wastewater to cool the reactor. The decision to relocate the site was taken by the Belgian contractor, Tractebel, which has concluded that the seismic padding required to build on the original site near Aqaba would have led to additional costs of about 15 percent according to JAEC officials. According to Khaled Toukan, chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, in April Jordan will choose the consortium to build two 1-gigawatt (GW) reactors, at an estimated cost of 12 billion euros (about US$16 billion). It will be used for electricity generation and desalination. The studies are carried out by Tractebel Engineering.
Since Jordan is new to the nuclear world, they will be forced to rely on foreign allies. In order to become a nuclear nation, Jordan has had to sign numerous agreements and create new relations with countries throughout the world. Jordan has signed memorandums of understanding with the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Japan, China, Russia, Spain, South Korea, Argentina, Romania, and Turkey. In December 2009, Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) in cooperation with a consortium headed by the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute signed an agreement with Daewoo Heavy Industries to build a its first research reactor by 2014 at the Jordan University of Science and Technology.
Jordan has also signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which promotes peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Jordan has taken to signing this security agreement seriously and is looking to use the international connections to find the most peaceful paths towards becoming a nuclear nation. In October 2013 the Russian VVER-1000 design was selected in a competitive tender for Jordan's first twin reactor nuclear power station. As recent as April, 2014 King Abdullah II met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss a possible Jordanian-Russian nuclear cooperation.
As the Jordanian government moves closer to the development of nuclear power plants, the anti-nuclear movement has picked up. The movement is spearheaded by Basel Burgan, an environmentalist and activist who leads the National Campaign, which strives to protect the people of Jordan from the dangers of nuclear energy. Burgan is one of the largest advocates for a nuclear free Jordan. The National Campaign stresses the idea that the nuclear power plants would contaminate Jordan's scarce water supply. Greenpeace Jordan has also made numerous contributions to the movement against nuclear energy in Jordan. Greenpeace Jordan has encouraged the Jordanian government to entertain the idea of creating an energy policy based on renewable resources. Greenpeace Jordan created the "Future of Energy of Jordan" report to introduce the possibility for wind and solar energy. The report brings to light some of the major issues that would occur from Jordan becoming a nuclear energy using nation and proposes a way for Jordan to thrive as a nuclear free nation. The deprivation of water in Jordan combined with heavy seismic activity. Greenpeace Jordan believes that by 2050 they will be able to attain 100% renewable energy. A possible site would be placed above the Azraq Aquifer, which provides one of the largest sources of freshwater to Amman. Environmentalists suggest that one minor accident at the plant could poison up to 1/3 of the water in the country. Jordan is already facing a high paced depletion of water resources, calling into question if the country can actually afford to take the risk of building these power plants. Jordan's Federation for Environmental Societies has used Jordan's lack of water resources as a platform for their anti-nuclear views. Jordan is ranked as the fourth water-poorest country in the world and falls 15% below the water poverty line set by the United Nations. The lack of water has also contributed to concerns about the cooling of the reactors. In cooling the reactors, Jordan would need to use approximately 500 million cubic meters of water annually. Many proponents against nuclear energy in Jordan cite water resource issues at the forefront of their protests; many believe that Jordan does not have room for water to spare.
- Jordan Atomic Energy Commission
- Jordan University of Science and Technology
- Jordan Research and Training Reactor
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