Saudi Arabia announces details of nuclear power boom

SAUDI Arabia plans to build 16 nuclear power reactors by 2030 which could costs more than $100 billion (£60bn), a Saudi-based newspaper reported yesterday, citing a top official.

The world's top crude exporter is struggling to keep up with rapidly rising power demand. It has considered boosting its domestic energy capacity using nuclear reactors.

"After ten years we will have the first two reactors," Abdul Ghani bin Melaibari, co-ordinator of scientific collaboration at King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, told Arab News.

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While many leading nations have backed away from atomic plans after the accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant, oil-rich Gulf states are among the few countries looking to make major investments in nuclear power plants.

"After that, every year we will establish two, until we have 16 of them by 2030," he said.

He estimated the cost of each reactor to be around $7bn, adding that the Kingdom is in the process of planning for the nuclear project and co-ordination with specialised companies.

The kingdom plans to cover 20 per cent of its electricity needs using nuclear energy, said Mr Melaibari.

Power demand in the top oil exporter is estimated to grow 8 per cent during the next ten years.

Neighbouring United Arab Emirates awarded a South Korean consortium the contract to build four nuclear power plants worth $20.4 bn in December 2009.

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