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.


Saudi to carry out nuclear power deal with or without US

Air strikes hit Ghouta despite rebel ceasefire effort

Three dead after suspected IS gunman takes hostages in France

US approves $1 billion in Saudi defence contracts

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

Iraqi asylum seeker gets life sentence for London bombing

UK says Israeli sentencing of Palestinian teenage girl "emblematic"

Israel ministers welcome US appointment of 'friend' Bolton

Sarkozy vows to clear name in Libya probe

Syria announces second evacuation deal for rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.

170,000 flee violence in Syria's Afrin

Norway proposes bill to ban full-face veils in education

Turkey says EU statements on Cyprus 'unacceptable'

In world first, flight to Israel crosses Saudi airspace

Saudi, US must pursue 'urgent efforts' for Yemen peace: Mattis

US, Jordan launch new counterterrorism training centre

Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Rebels evacuate Syria's Eastern Ghouta

Two Hamas security force members killed in raid on bomb suspect

Turkey gives watchdog power to block internet broadcasts

EU leaders to condemn Turkey’s ‘illegal’ actions in Mediterranean

Sarkozy says life ‘living hell’ since corruption allegations

Hezbollah leader says debt threatens Lebanon disaster

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria