Dubai: Oil-rich Saudi Arabia plans to become a leader in renewable energy by building 16 nuclear reactors by 2030 at an estimated cost of $100 billion and with a combined capacity of 22 gigawatts.
The nuclear capacity will be about half of the country's current electricity output and the first two reactors would be ready within 10 years, Arab News quoted Abdul Ghani bin Melaibari, coordinator of scientific collaboration at King Abdullah city for Atomic and Renewable Energy, as saying.
Power demand in Saudi Arabia is estimated to grow seven to eight percent during the next 10 years.
The cost building nuclear reactors in the country would be comparatively higher because of its extreme hot climate, Melaibari pointed out, besides stressing the need to train Saudis to operate and maintain such plants.
"The cost of building and operating nuclear plants in France, Russia, South Korea and Japan differs from one country to another, depending on the technology they adopt, infrastructure facilities in place and the availability of cheap manpower," he said.
"After 10 years, we will have the first two reactors. After that, every year we will establish two, until we have 16 by 2030. We would like to cover 20 percent of electricity needs using nuclear energy," Melaibari said.
He estimated the cost of each reactor to be around $7 billion, adding that the country is in the process of concluding deals with specialised companies to implement the project.
Saudi Arabia is the largest economy of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, with an annual GDP of $622 billion and a GDP per capita of $24,200.
The country is the world's second largest oil producer, producing 9.9 million barrels of crude per day. It is the world's largest oil exporter.