Nuclear power ‘best option for the Gulf’


"A giant Gulf reactor, at the best possible site in the GCC, would be the most cost-effective option to generate power, as well as distribute it at a cheap rate," said Saudi Electricity Company board member Bakr Hamza Khoshaim.

He was chairing a strategic session on nuclear power generation in the Middle East at the PowerGEN Middle East conference and exhibition.

The event is being held under the patronage of Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre.

"While all countries are looking at the nuclear option, it has to be said the task is not easy," said Mr Khoshaim.

"Even if any nation starts to envisage the project now, it would be at least a decade before it is finally on stream."

Mr Khoshaim, who is also a member of Solar Energy International, said that with the GCC power grid due to be fully operational in less than two years, an interconnection from the giant reactor to that network would be the best thing to happen.


Mr Khoshaim said the demand for alternative energy sources had never been felt acutely as it is being felt now.

"While we have fossil fuels for as long as we can think of, concentration now is on getting cheaper and better fuels without compromising on the environment. That is why we have to look for alternative sources."

"Given the high demand for power and the population growth in the region, the only immediate solution is nuclear energy," said Mr Khoshaim.

The demand for reactors is increasing, said Othman Sali, nuclear projects vice-president at the world’s largest nuclear reactor supplier, Areva, of France.

"The nuclear option is still being studied, but if a decision is made to go ahead, each country would have its own circumstances in acquiring fuel sources within the regulations governing peaceful uses of nuclear energy," said Mr Sali.

PB Power UK nuclear services director Alistair Smith said nuclear power was probably the most tested and the most applicable source of energy for the high level of demand growth that the GCC region would see over the next quarter of a century.

"This is a fairly new phenomenon in the energy world, but the way it is going, it is very positive," he said.

"The governments of the region should, however, start taking decisions now if they are serious in making this a reality in this part of the world in the next 10 years," he added.

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