Saudi Arabia is finding ways to generate energy for sustainable development and the conservation of the global ecosystem.
To meet its electricity needs, the Kingdom currently relies heavily on oil and natural gas. Saudi Arabia expects a 40 percent increase in local demand for electricity between 2019 and 2030, according to official estimates.
This projected increase in the use of electricity is attributed to the rapid growth of urban areas and proposals by the Kingdom to develop a strong manufacturing sector and expand its industrial base as envisaged in Vision 2030.
Nuclear power accounts for 11% of the world's electricity supply, with 454 nuclear reactors in 30 countries and 54 plants under construction, including 11 in China, 7 in India, and six in Russia.
In 2018, the Saudi government declared its national nuclear policy. Over the next 25 years, it plans to build as many as 16 nuclear plants at a cost of in $80 billion. By 2032, the Kingdom is planning to meet 15 percent of its growing nuclear energy needs.
Recently, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) released a study calling for the use of small modular reactors (SMRs) in the Kingdom to achieve its 2030 Vision objectives.
SMRs are smaller than traditional reactors as a type of nuclear fission reactor. They are manufactured at a plant to be assembled and transported to a site. Such reactors require less construction on-site, improved containment efficiency and nuclear material security.
"Nuclear reactors ' total capacity has risen from 50 megawatts of electric (MWe) in the 1950s to about 1.65 gigawatts of electric (GWe) today," the study says.
Localizing SMR technology in Saudi Arabia would also provide great economic and social benefits in achieving the goals and objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.
Nuclear generation technology has been evolving and growing since the 1950s. Nuclear power has become more reliable, healthier and more stable after the three major nuclear disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.
The development of SMRs requires a lower initial investment and shorter simpler design periods compared to large modular reactors (3 years versus 7-10 years), according to KAPSARC, as the system can be extended at any time (buying one module and adding others later).
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