Saudi Arabia signs nuclear power agreement with Russia

21 June 2015

Rosatom has also signed agreements with Jordan

  • Riyadh signs nuclear cooperation agreement for peaceful use of nuclear energy
  • Saudi nuclear power progress has been slow

Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement with Russia for cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The agreement was signed by Hashim Yamani, president of King Abdullah City for Atomic & Renewable Energy (KA-Care), and Sergei Kiriyenko, president of Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom).

The agreement is the latest signed by Rosatom in the region. On 24 March, it signed an agreement with Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC). The agreement paves the way for the construction of two nuclear power reactors with a total capacity of 2,000MW at a cost of $10bn.

Saudi Arabia has also been signing agreements. In April 2015, KA-Care signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint cooperation with France on peaceful uses of nuclear energy and training and development of nuclear cadres. In March, KA-Care signed an MoU with South Korea on the peaceful development of nuclear power.

KA-Care is being lined up to become the regulator for the kingdom’s nuclear energy plans, following the failure of the country’s planned renewables programme.

It is understood the organisation is being reformed to become the regulator for the country’s planned nuclear energy programme. State utility Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) and state oil major Saudi Aramco are among the companies in consultation with the government regarding a nuclear power programme in the kingdom.

In September 2012, KA-Care appointed a group of advisers to work on plans to develop the 17.9GW nuclear programme. The group included US management consultancy Oliver Wyman, France’s BNP Paribas and the local Riyad Bank. There has been little further information released about the programme since then, but with Riyadh shifting its focus away from renewables, the nuclear programme is expected to gain some momentum moving forward.

SEC and Saudi Aramco are both expected to push forward with renewable energy projects in the coming months. However, these will be on a much smaller scale than what had been planned under the original 54GW programme.

A troubled history

King Abdullah City for Atomic & Renewable Energy (KA-Care) was formed in 2010 under royal decree to spearhead the kingdom’s ambitious renewable and nuclear energy plans, which included targets of installing 54GW of renewable energy and 17.9GW of nuclear power by 2032.

The alternative energy body’s initial focus was on starting the renewable energy programme and, in early 2013, it released a draft white paper outlining the procurement plans and strategy for the initial renewables phases.

However, no further progress was made and it is understood that following the failure to get the renewables programme off the ground, KA-Care is being reformed to focus on its planned role as nuclear regulator.

Saudi Arabia retreats from renewables

The quiet demise of Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy ambitions

KA-Care needs a fresh start

Supreme Council of KA-Care disbanded

Saudi Arabia’s nuclear programme

Finding right partner vital for winning Saudi nuclear work

Energy white paper signals strategic shift for Saudi Arabia

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