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.

 

US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance advances in IS-held Tabqa

US drone strike kills 5 Qaeda suspects in Yemen

Libya seizes two foreign oil tankers after gunbattle at sea

Turkish opposition down but not out

Europe’s 2017 elections affecting lives of Arabs, Muslims

Iran opens refinery to become petrol self-sufficient

Kuwaiti resigns from FIFA council to fight bribery claim

Waterway lifeline for civilians fleeing Tabqa

New Jordan-Syria spat revives simmering tensions

Trump’s U-turn on Syria checks Iranian ambitions

Hezbollah defiance on Israel border undermines Lebanon Army

Pope lifts spirits of Egypt's persecuted Christians

UN eyes new Western Sahara talks after Polisario pullback

Erdogan says Turkey, US can turn Raqa into 'graveyard'

Hamas to amend controversial charter

Turkish authorities block access to Wikipedia

Pope Francis leads mass in Egypt

President of European rights group censured for Assad meeting

Pope Francis flies to Egypt as 'pilgrim of peace'

Palestinians protest to support prisoners on hunger strike

Turkish army, Syrian Kurdish militia in new clashes

Erdogan to rejoin Turkey ruling party next week

Germany urges EU not to break off Turkey accession talks

OPCW says chemical weapons allegedly used 45 times in Syria

Netanyahu slams German foreign minster as 'insensitive'

UK warns of ‘increased level of terrorist activity’

Erdogan hopes for 'new page' with US under Trump

UN Security Council calls for Polisario pullback from Guerguerat

UN envoy to Libya to visit Sudan for peace talks

Tunisian PM booed out of town hall meet

Russian spy ship sinks off Turkish coast

London police arrest ‘terror act’ knifeman by parliament

Palestinians strike in support of protesting prisoners

Two Saudi soldiers killed in rocket attack near Yemen border

German soldier plots attack under refugee disguise

Iraq forces retake town of Hatra from IS

Syria accuses Israel of strike near Damascus airport

10 dead after strikes on rebel-held hospitals in Syria

Turkey’s AKP to hold special congress readmitting Erdogan

EU reviews Libya request for naval equipment

Jail terms over death of Moroccan fishmonger

UN appoints Syrian Olympic swimmer as ambassador

Bahraini activist on hunger strike behind bars

Calls on Saudi social media for jobless protest

Tunisian coastguards no match for high-speed smugglers