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Tue 5 Oct 2010 03:44 AM

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Saudi eyes nuclear energy to boost power production

Kingdom saw its power demand grow by more than 8% in the last year

Saudi eyes nuclear energy to boost power production
NUCLEAR BOOST: Saudi Arabia will need 40GW of base load power by 2030, which could be met by nuclear plants. (Image for illustrative purposes only) (ITP Images)

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia will need 40 gigawatts (GW) of base load power by 2030 which could be met by nuclear plants, a senior official from the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy said on Monday.

While the kingdom sits on some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves, it has struggled to keep up with rapidly rising power demand as petrodollars have fuelled a Gulf wide economic boom.

It saw power demand grow by more than 8 percent last year. Total demand was expected to grow to more than 60,000 megawatt (MW) by 2020 from around 50,000 MW current capacity.

Speaking at an industry conference, Khalid Suleiman, vice president for renewable energy, said: "Between summer and winter there is a great gap of almost 40 percent that we can utilize, that is where renewables and nuclear can play a role."

The kingdom would need a base load of 40 GW to meet its energy needs, but so far no plan has been set on what energy mix would be used, said Suleiman.

He added: "In 2030, there is a need of at least 40 GW of base load in winter, this can be satisfied by nuclear. And in the summer we would increase it to 70-75 GW."

The energy city has awarded 14 international and local companies, among which 6 are from Saudi Arabia and 8 from Asia and North America, contracts to build the city spread over a 62 square km in the Saudi capital Riyadh, Suleiman said.

Other forms of renewable energy such as concentrated solar power (CSP) systems are also seen to have great potential, said Suleiman.

"There is a great potential for renewables such as CSP and PV."

Suleiman said a proposed funding mechanism for renewables would include central procurement and feed in tariff.

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