First Published: 2010-04-18

 
Saudis to build nuclear, renewable energy centre
 

Saudis move to diversify kingdom's power generation away from oil and natural gas.

 

Middle East Online

By Paul Handley - RIYADH

Hashem bin Abdullah Yamani

Oil giant Saudi Arabia on Saturday gave its strongest signal yet that it wants to develop atomic power by announcing a new centre for nuclear and alternative energy technologies.

Former commerce minister Hashem bin Abdullah Yamani was named to head the King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energies, to be built in Riyadh, said an announcement on the official SPA news agency.

The government said the centre would undertake research and develop projects in nuclear and alternative energies toward the goal of diversifying the kingdom's power generation away from oil and natural gas.

While the Gulf kingdom has already been experimenting with alternative energy sources like solar power, the latest move confirmed its interest in nuclear energy.

The new entity is to draft a national policy on nuclear energy development and supervise all commercial use of nuclear power and the handling of radioactive waste, the announcement said.

It pointed to high growth in demand for electricity from Saudi Arabia's mainly oil- and natural gas-fired power plants, especially for energy-intensive water desalination projects.

"The use of alternative sources of sustainable and reliable electricity and desalinated water production reduces the reliance on hydrocarbon resources, and thus provides an additional guarantee for the production of water and electricity in the future," it said.

While Saudi Arabia has the world's largest proven oil reserves and huge hydrocarbon riches, high population growth and heavy energy subsidies have driven up domestic oil and gas consumption at a rate that has sparked concern among planners.

The Saudis have moved cautiously toward nuclear power, falling well behind neighbour United Arab Emirates, which in December awarded a South Korean-led consortium a 20.4-billion-dollar contract to build four nuclear power plants.

But the desert kingdom is already pumping money into solar energy research and development.

In January the government announced a project for a solar power-fueled desalination plant in the Gulf coast city of Al-Khafji that could produce 30,000 cubic metres of fresh water daily from seawater.

The second phase of the project would expand the capacity ten-fold.

 

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali

Erdogan says may shut Iraqi border at any moment

Tunisian couple jailed for 'public indecency' over car kiss

Next round of Syria talks at end October

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

PSG's Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe

UN urges de-escalation in Iraq

Haley: Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive behaviour

EU says Israeli settlements illegal under international law

Kurdish independence goes from dream to dust

Female commander more than just poster girl for Raqa victory

Saudi airline flies to Baghdad for first time in 27 years

Wanted Dead: France's approach to IS jihadists