Nuclear energy in Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia has plans to create a domestic nuclear industry in anticipation of high growth in domestic energy consumption.[1] One set of plans proposes building two nuclear reactors by 2020, and have sixteen built by 2030.[2] The government's intent is to use the electrical power thus produced in place of power obtained from petroleum-fired powerplants, thus freeing that petroleum for export. Currently, Saudi Arabia produces 52 GW from 79 non-nuclear powerplants. The government intends to produce 110 GWe by 2032. This would require 16 reactors by 2019 at a cost of $7B each. Saudi Arabia hopes to produce surplus capacity for export, although that would depend on the rate of domestic electrical energy demand. One prediction foresees domestic consumption at 75 GWe by 2018, rising to 120 GWe by 2030.[3]


The Saudi program is reckoned to be the second most developed in the Arab world, behind their Persian Gulf neighbour United Arab Emirates. In 2010, the King Abdallah Center for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KAcare) was founded to oversee Saudi Arabia's nuclear program under its president, Hashim Abdullah Yamani (former minister of energy and of commerce).[4] KAcare will represent Saudi Arabia at the IAEA and be responsible for Saudi nuclear energy power, supervision of nuclear power production and management of nuclear waste.[5]


Saudi Arabia has no fuel production facilities and would be reliant on nuclear fuel from the global market. In 2010, a deal was signed with Toshiba and Shaw to build reactors in Saudi Arabia, and with Exelon to manage the nuclear facilities. The group will either be using the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor or Westinghouse's AP1000.[3]

In February 2011, Saudi Arabia signed its first nuclear accord with France, a leader in nuclear technology exports.[6] It is expected that Saudi Arabia will build a number of nuclear reactors in the near future with the aid of France to expand King Abdullah's Atomic and Renewable Energy City devoted to research and the peaceful application of nuclear energy.[7][8]

In March 2015, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Saudi Arabia and South Korea. This could lead to the construction of at least two South Korean-designed SMART reactors in Saudi Arabia.[9] SMART stands for System-integrated Modular Advanced ReacTor.[10]

In April 2019, the IAEA confirmed that Saudi Arabia was likely to have a functioning nuclear reactor within a year, but had not agreed to IAEA inspections.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Angelina Rascouet (20 October 2016). "Saudi Arabia to Select Nuclear Power-Plant Site 'Very Soon'". Bloomberg. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Gulf Region still on course for six nuclear reactors by 2020 despite Fukushima | Crescent Petroleum". 11 March 2011. Archived from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  3. ^ a b Dan Yurman (23 August 2011). "Saudi Arabia's Nuclear Energy Ambitions". The Energy Collective. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Saudis, Emirates push nuclear power plans". 26 July 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  5. ^ Saudi Gazette. "King orders to build nuke, renewable energy facility". Saudi Gazette. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  6. ^ World Nuclear Association. Nuclear Power in France (updated September 2013). Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Summer Said (Feb 2013). Saudi Arabia, France Sign Nuclear-Energy Deal The Wall Street Journal Business. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Borger, Julian (2019-04-04). "Saudi Arabia's first nuclear reactor nearly finished, sparking fears over safeguards". the Guardian. Retrieved 2019-04-08.

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